UNICS Russia defeated Zielona Gora Poland at home, 86-66 (20-23, 21-14, 20-13, 25-16).
UNICS: Jamar Smith (20 + 7 reb + 6 ast), Raymar Morgan (15 + 6 reb), Trent Lockett (13 + 6 ast), Maurice Ndour (10)
Zielona Gora: Markel Starks (15 + 5 ast), Boris Savovic (14 + 6 reb), Michal Sokolowski (11), Adam Hrycaniuk (11)
UNICS continued its undefeated start in the League with a 20-point win over visiting Zielona Gora. The Russian club trailed at the end of the 1st quarter, thanks to this sequence from American guard Markel Starks.
Лэй-ап, перехват и трехочковый за 25 секунд от Маркела Старкс из @basket_zg ♨️
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) October 20, 2018
UNICS did not regain control until late in the 2nd quarter, when Jamar Smith put together his own 5-0 spurt, draining a 3-pointer and a jumper to put Kazan on top, 40-37. Evgeny Kolesnikov added a free throw to close the period and UNICS went into the locker room with a four-point advantage.
The Polish visitors, riding high from a season-opening win in Nizhny Novgorod, kept things interesting to begin the 3rd quarter. Michal Sokolowski connected on a pair of 3-pointers, while Adam Hrycaniuk’s jumper knotted the score at 45-45 with seven minutes left in the period.
Once again, Jamar Smith sparked the home team’s offense, this time draining back-to-back triples. UNICS would ultimately score 14 unanswered points and finished the 3rd quarter with an 11-point lead, 61-50.
That was it for the visitors, who managed only 29 second-half points against UNICS’s defense.
Smith finished with a game-high 20 points for the home team, who move into a three-way tie for first place with CSKA and Khimki. Zielona Gora drops to 1-1, but can look forward to its home debut next Monday vs. Astana.
1 – It’s been one year since Kostas Kaimakoglou scored in the League.
The Greek big man recorded 11 points vs. Lokomotiv-Kuban on October 21, 2017, before snapping his lengthy drought with two points today in the win over Zielona Gora.
UNICS head coach Dimitris Priftis: “My congratulations to the team. I’m satisfied with the guys today. If you exclude the first half, especially the first quarter, we held to the proper rhythm most of the game. But I’m happiest that each player who took the court had an impact on the final result.
At the same time, we still have a lot of injured players, some of whom continue to play. Now we have a tough flight ahead, which will not help them, of course. Overall, the guys are tired. I want to mention that Zielona Gora is a very good team which plays team basketball like no other team in the League that we’ve played yet. The Poles are very organized and they have a clear strategy, both on offense and defense. That’s why I’m happy we were able to win today.”
Zielona Gora head coach Igor Jovovic: “Congratulations to UNICS. They were better today. Of course, we were playing against one of the VTB League leaders. I like how we played in the first half, with the exception perhaps of the final 2-3 minutes. In the second half, UNICS seized the momentum and was more aggressive on defense. Kazan began using its individual skill on offense and their snipers hit tough shots. After pulling away, Kazan was able to defend its lead. This game was a good lesson for us. We didn’t think we would play out of our minds, but in the second half we should have been better.”
UNICS: October 28 away vs. Khimki
Zielona Gora: October 29 home vs. Astana