UNICS Eliminates Nizhny Novgorod

UNICS Kazan defeated Nizhny Novgord on the road, 84-71, in Game 3 of the playoff quarterfinals. After coming out of the gates slow, Kazan erased an 11-point 2nd-quarter deficit, going on to win by double digits. With the victory, UNICS advances to the semifinals, where it awaits the winner of Zenit - Avtodor.

Ainars Bagatskis's men lost the first two games in Kazan, but hoped to get back in the series at home. Despite finishing 7th in the standings, Nizhny managed to defeat four of the league's top five clubs at home during the regular season (CSKA, UNICS, Khimki and Lokomotiv-Kuban).

A strong start gave Nizhny the lead. The Black-Whites connected on 3-pointers, drove the basket and got the ball inside to the big men. Kazan was led by Keith Langford's nine 1st-quarter points, but it wasn't enough as UNICS trailed, 25-15.

Surprisingly, Kazan began to have success once Langford checked out of the game. The defense became more aggressive and Arturas Milaknis and Kostantinos Kaimakoglou knocked down some 3-pointers to pull the visitors within a point, 42-41, at halftime.

The visitors continued to excel in the 3rd quarter. Anton Ponkrashov and Quino Colom directed the offense, creating excellent looks for their teammates. Combined with Langford's scoring, UNICS pulled away by 11, 66-55, at the end of 30 minutes.

Langford dominated the opening minutes of the 4th quarter, knocking down eight points in the first five minutes to put his team on top, 78-64. Nizhny battled, but couldn't solve Kazan's defense down the stretch, suffering a third consecutive defeat to be eliminated from the postseason.

Star Player
Keith Langford. The American guard played another terrific game. He was Kazan's primary option on offense and hit some big shots in the second half to help his team pull away.

Stat of the Game
19% (3-16) - the home team struggled from outside, beginning in the 2nd quarter. After hitting three 3-pointers in the 1st quarter, Nizhny failed to score again from outside.

UNICS head coach Evgeny Pashutin:
- The rivalry with Nizhny Novgorod stretches back many years. This is a tough, principled team and we understood that they would compete no matter the circumstances. That's why I had my team prepared like they were playing in a final for each game. As expected, our opponent wanted to decide the outcome in the first two quarters and almost succeeded. But our guys regrouped, played better defense and held off the charge. That was the turning point. After that, we played with more composure and took care of business. Congratulations to my team on the win. Our goal is reaching the finals. It won't be easy, but we will do everything we can.

Nizhny Novgorod head coach Ainars Bagatskis:
- As you saw, we didn't have any trouble with our motivation and desire to show our fans we could win. We demonstrated that at the start of the game. Unfortunately, our ability to capitalize on opportunities let us down. With a team like UNICS you have to play perfect offense. During the 3rd quarter, we committed five turnovers, which gave our opponent easy chances and they took the lead. I'm very sad that the game is over, and, along with it, the season. We did almost everything in this series. Everything, except win.