UNICS Russia defeated Tsmoki-Minsk Belarus at home, 88-69 (20-22, 14-17, 27-18, 27-12).
UNICS: Jamar Smith (18 + 5 reb), Errick McCollum (12), Anton Ponkrashov (11)
Tsmoki-Minsk: Devon Saddler (18 + 7 ast), Zisis Sarikopoulos (15 + 11 reb), Vitali Liutych (11)
UNICS was determined to bounce back from the stunning loss to PARMA last week, while Tsmoki-Minsk hoped to improve on its 2-7 start to the season.
During the first half, neither team was able to create much separation (the Dragons led 39-34).
Minsk, however, impressed on defense in the opening 20 minutes, limiting Kazan to 28% shooting (12-42 from the field) to take the halftime lead.
Kazan was much more efficient in the second half, sparked by Errick McCollum. The American shot 0-5 in the first half, before scoring eight in the 3rd to help UNICS take a 61-57 lead entering the final period.
UNICS caught fire to open the final period. 3-pointers from Jamar Smith, Anton Ponkrashov and Melvin Ejim led to a 13-0 run for the home team, staking Kazan to an insurmountable 74-57 lead.
The win is UNICS’s eighth of the season and keeps the Tatar club in 3rd place, one game up on hard-charging Astana. Tsmoki drops to 2-8, 13th place.
17 – number of Tsmoki-Minsk turnovers, compared to only five for UNICS.
Jamar Smith. The UNICS sniper was consistent from start to finish, leading UNICS with 18 points (7-10 from the field), five rebounds and two assists.
UNICS head coach Dimitris Priftis: “This was a game we had to win, like any home game. We started strong and played well in the first five minutes, but overall we struggled in the first half. After halftime, we had the right attitude toward the game. We executed well on defense, scored easy baskets in transition and forced turnovers. At the end, we were able to win easily. I want to congratulate everyone who will read my remarks on the Christmas holiday.”
Tsmoki-Minsk head coach Aliaksandr Krutsikau: “We had 24 fewer possessions. We came up short on the glass today. Our opponent had 23 offensive rebounds; 24 defensive rebounds for us. Those possessions decided the outcome of the game.”