Zenit St. Petersburg defeated UNICS Kazan in the Third Place Game, 93-79 (26-15, 26-26, 18-20, 23-18).
UNICS: Jamar Smith (16), Melvin Ejim (14 + 7 reb), Quino Colom (13), Anton Poknrashov (11 + 9 reb), Mauric Ndour (10 + 7 reb)
Zenit: Kyle Kuric (29 + 4 stl), Demonte Harper (20), Shayne Whittington (12 + 7 reb), Sergey Karasev (11)
Kyle Kuric scored a Playoffs-record 23 points in the first half to put Zenit on top by double digits and the Blue, White and Sky Blues never looked back, securing a 14-point win over UNICS to take home the League bronze.
UNICS beat Zenit twice during the regular season, but a rash of first-half turnovers put the Tatar club in a big hole early and they were never able to recover.
Kyle Kuric was unstoppable, knocking down seven of nine shots in the opening two quarters to go with 6-6 at the line.
UNICS was dominant on the glass (41-29), but an abysmal assist/turnover ratio (14 vs. 24) and lack of firepower doomed the two seed.
Jamar Smith led Kazan with 16 in the final game of the season, but shot only 4-13 from the field.
Despite cruising through the regular season with a 22-2 record (the only two defeats were against CSKA), UNICS came up short at the Final Four, dropping back-to-back games vs. Khimki and Zenit.
St. Petersburg, on the other hand, battled through injuries all season and takes home the bronze despite entering the Playoffs as the four seed.
Kyle Kuric broke the Playoffs record set by Sergio Rodriguez on Friday night, scoring 23 points in the first half (Rodriguez dropped 21).
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) June 10, 2018
20 – Kazan’s turnover woes were compounded by St. Petersburg’s outstanding care of the ball. Zenit turned the ball over only seven times and enjoyed 10 extra field-goal attempts in the game.
Zenit head coach Vasily Karasev:
– This was probably the biggest win for the club in our three years of existence. We had a lot of injuries this season and struggled at the end of the regular season, but today we managed to put it all together. It’s rewarding to see everyone compete on the court and give 100% until the very end.
UNICS head coach Dimitris Priftis:
– Thank you to the UNICS players for this season. We had some tough moments, but we did an excellent job together. Thank you to the club management. I hope everyone has a great summer. The entire club did a great job.
Images of the Game