UNICS Kazan defeated Zenit St. Petersburg on the road, 99-82 (22-27, 29-23, 24-14, 24-18).
Zenit: Sergey Karasev (19 + 5 reb), Shayne Whittington (17), Demonte Harper (14), Evgeny Valiev (11 + 5 reb)
UNICS: Melvin Ejim (16 + 5 reb), Jamar Smith (14), Quino Colom (11 + 8 ast)
UNICS clinched a share of 1st place with a 17-point win in St. Petersburg, closing the season on a seven-game winning streak. Melvin Ejim led the visitors with 16 points and five rebounds as UNICS shot 52% from beyond the arc to squelch a hot start from Zenit.
Zenit jumped out to an 8-0 lead and outscored Kazan 27-22 in the 1st quarter. Vasily Karasev’s men needed a win to stay alive in the race for 3rd place, but the momentum quickly shifted in the 2nd quarter thanks to a 9-0 UNICS run to open the period.
The Tatar club knocked down four triples in the quarter and entered halftime with a 51-50 lead.
Searching for its 22nd win of the season, Kazan’s defense sparkled in the second half. After giving up 50 in the opening 20 minutes, the visitors held Zenit to 32 over the next 20 minutes.
Sergey Karasev led the home team with 19 points, but sharpshooter Kyle Kuric was held to a season-low one point on 0-4 3-point shooting.
Leading by 11 at the end of the 3rd quarter, UNICS put the game on cruise control in the 4th quarter, finishing one point shy of 100 in a convincing double-digit win.
UNICS now awaits the outcome of CSKA’s visit to PARMA on Saturday. Should the Army Men stumble, Kazan earns the League’s #1 seed in the postseason.
Zenit drops to 15-8 and is locked into the #4 seed with one game remaining at home vs. Tsmoki-Minsk.
Play of the Game
1 – only one team (CSKA) was able to beat UNICS this season.
Zenit head coach Vasily Karasev:
– Right now, we simply don’t have as much as talent. There’s a reason UNICS only lost to CSKA during the regular season. We have too few options and too little flexibility on offense, especially if our snipers aren’t hitting. Thanks to Kazan’s aggressive, smart defense, we had an even fewer options than usual today.
UNICS head coach Dimitris Priftis:
– Tough game today. We were missing several players, and Zenit has a very talented team. We know how good they are on offense. They have players who can score from beyond the arc and in the paint. During the second half, we were able to pull out the win thanks to better defense. This was a very good win and now we can concentrate on the playoffs.
Zenit: May 12 home vs. Tsmoki-Minsk
UNICS: Finishes with 22-2 record
Images of the Game