UNICS Kazan defeated Enisey Krasnoyarsk at home, 95-92 (16-23, 24-20, 25-16, 30-33).
UNICS: Errick McCollum (18), Maxim Sheleketo (13), Pierria Henry (12 + 9 ast), Melvin Ejim (11 + 7 reb)
Enisey: Martins Meiers (22 + 11 reb), DeAngelo Harrison (19 + 5 ast), Alex Young (18), John Roberson (13 + 11 ast)
UNICS notched its 9th win of the season in a 95-92 shootout with Enisey. After staking themselves to a 10-point lead, 86-76, with less than three minutes remaining, UNICS looked like it would cruise to victory.
But Enisey had other ideas. Five free throws (including one on a technical assessed to Kazan’s Jackie Carmichael) and a 3-point dagger from John Roberson cut the deficit to two, 86-84, in less than a minute.
Despite five points from UNICS guard Errick McCollum, the visitors kept coming. DeAngelo Harrison and Alex Young knocked down two more 3’s, which made it a one-point game, 91-90, with 39 seconds on the clock.
The game would be decided at the free-throw line. UNICS made four straight down the stretch to regain a three-point lead, 95-92. With eight seconds to go, Enisey could have forced overtime with a triple, but Young’s attempt from the corner missed the mark badly and the home team grabbed the rebound and the win, dribbling out the clock in Kazan.
UNICS trailed early in the contest, falling behind by as much as nine late in the 2nd quarter. But a late push cut the deficit to three at halftime and the home team appeared to take control in the 3rd, outscoring Enisey 19-8 over the final 5:30.
Russian forward Maxim Sheleketo was instrumental in Kazan’s success, scoring eight, including a pair of 3-pointers, during the run.
In control most of the 4th, UNICS had to hang on for dear life in the closing minutes.
But a win is a win and Kazan now sits in 3rd place with a 9-2 record. Enisey drops to 4-9 and 10th place.
16 – number of points scored by Enisey over the final 2:52 of the game. It wasn’t quite enough.
Никаких посторонних на тренерской кухне!
Entrance only for players and stuff! pic.twitter.com/yDxkFjhGmo
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) January 6, 2019
UNICS head coach Dimitris Priftis: “We won, congrats to the team. Congrats to Enisey on how they battled. Our opponent was very physical and shot the ball well from outside. We did not enter the game with the right attitude, even though we said beforehand that we needed to be more serious, play at full strength, defend properly and be more aggressive. But we were very passive in the 1st quarter on defense and that allowed our opponent to gain confidence in their abilities. The game went the way it went. It’s good we won, but there’s a lot we need to improve.”
Enisey head coach Oleg Okulov: “The outcome of the game was decided by a few possessions and a few of our mistakes on defense. Without doubt, UNICS is a very high-level team and competing strong in the EuroCup. We tried today and, despite our mistakes, we played with a lot of heart and pride. Our skill level may have let us down at times. And, of course, it’s too bad we could have handled our final possession differently, but it is what it is. I don’t think that was the only thing that affected the outcome. We lost a few rebounds, and a few mistakes earlier allowed UNICS to hold on and take the lead and we weren’t able to respond. Everybody makes mistakes; that’s the way the game is. We’ll keep working, because our last game showed we’re on the right track.”