UNICS Dispatches Loko In Kazan

UNICS Kazan defeated Lokomotiv-Kuban Krasnodar at home, 80-76. The Tatar club seized the lead in the second half thanks to its perimeter shooting and held on for a four-point victory. With the win, UNICS has virtually guaranteed 2nd place in the standings and home-court advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Two title contenders met in Kazan. Lokomotiv needed a win to keep its 2nd-place hopes alive, while UNICS looked to stretch its lead over 3rd-place Krasnodar and complete the season sweep.

Defense dominated when these two teams met in December (Loko and UNICS combined for 114 points). UNICS coach Evgeny Pashutin told his men not to rush, control the tempo and lock down Loko's leaders on defense. He gave his men a very similar challenge on Sunday. Kazan got the job done in the 1st quarter, picking up a 13-10 lead at the end of 10 minutes.

Lokomotiv grabbed the upper hand in the 2nd quarter. Anthony Randolph led the visitors on an 11-6 run to start the period. Dontaye Draper and Andrey Zubkov also made contributions off the bench, giving Krasnodar a 32-28 lead at halftime.

The momentum shifted again in the 3rd quarter. UNICS got hot from outside, knocking down six of seven attempts in the period. Kazan poured in 31 points, more than doubling its output in the first half. Thanks to a 15-point advantage in the quarter, UNICS cruised into the 4th with a 59-48 advantage.

Lokomotiv didn't fold down the stretch, but the deficit was too big to overcome. Krasnodar couldn't shut down Kazan's offense, giving up another 21 points to drop an 80-76 decision.

Star Player
Keith Langford. The UNICS guard played a big role in his team's success from outside. Despite shooting only 33% from the field, Langford finished with 20 points and drew the focus of Lokomotiv's defense, freeing up his teammates. He also chipped in with six rebounds and four assists.

Stat of the Game
9 - number of UNICS 3-pointers in the second half. Kazan only made one in the first half.

UNICS head coach Evgeny Pashutin:
- We played good defense today, which wasn't easy, given Lokomotiv's quality. Kuban has a lot of snipers and a terrific frontcourt. Loko uses an unconventional strategy, which gives opponents a lot of trouble on defense. We played hard, found a way through Lokomotiv's defense and proved we were stronger.

Lokomotiv-Kuban head coach Georgios Bartzokas:
- Congratulations to UNICS on the win. Kazan played a strong game, especially in the second half. My guys weren't focused enough on defense, especially in the second half. We have a very tough schedule. We're competing in two prestigious tournaments and playing as many as four games in a week. That has an impact on the quality of our basketball.