Langford & Co. Take Game 1

UNICS Kazan defeated Nizhny Novgorod at home, 83-70, in Game 1 of the playoff quarterfinals. The 2nd quarter proved decisive. Led by Langford, UNICS took a commanding lead and never conceded control to go up 1-0 in the series.

The playoffs continued on Saturday afternoon with UNICS hosting Nizhny Novgorod at the Kazan Basket Hall. The home team was favored, but Ainars Bagatskis's men planned to give UNICS all it could handle.

Visiting point guard Dmitry Khvostov dominated the opneing minutes. He did everything on offense for Nizhny, scoring and distributing, but it wasn't enough to match Kazan's depth. After a slow start, UNICS quickly seized control. Keith Langford scored 19 points in the first half, staking his team to a 44-34 advantage at halftime.

Nizhny slowed down Langford with a zone defense in the 3rd, but a sluggish offense meant that the visitors struggled to catch up. UNICS nursed a 10-point margin for most of the 3rd and 4th quarters, before Evgeny Baburin, Ivan Strebkov and Dmitry Khvostov's 3-pointers cut the deficit to six, 68-62, midway through the final period.

Turning Point
UNICS managed to hold on despite Nizhny's brief surge. The defense limited the visitors to eight points in the final five minutes, helping UNICS restore a double-digit lead and secure the win.

Star Player
Keith Langford. The American sparked Kazan's decisive 2nd-quarter run and hit some big shots down the stretch. He finished with 26 points, six rebounds and three assists.

Stat of the Game
7 - number of points scored by Nizhny's bench. The starters played well, but there wasn't enough support to pull out a win on the road.

UNICS head coach Evgeny Pashutin:
- The first game of a series is always nerve-wracking. It's no secret that playoff games are different. We managed to stop our opponent's leaders, though we struggled with Khvostov at first. But everything worked against Rudd. We need to get better on defense and rebounding. The series won't be easy. Nizhny Novgorod is known for its toughness.

Nizhny Novgorod head coach Ainars Bagatskis:
- UNICS is the favorite in the series. In order to have success against Kazan, two things are necessary. One - patience, two - physicality. We held on as long as we didn't make substitutions. We matched UNICS's skill with energy and desire. Of the negatives, I'd mention our poor free-throw shooting. We didn't take care of business vs. Langford and he's half the team at UNICS. But the series is only getting started. There's time to fix our mistakes.