Zenit Forces Game 5

Zenit St. Petersburg defeated UNICS Kazan at home, 85-82, in Game 4 of the playoff semifinals. The visitors led by as much as 15 points in the 3rd quarter, but incredible support from the SIBUR Arena crowd sparked a Zenit comeback, helping the home team pick up a 'W' and force Game 5 in Kazan.

UNICS failed to finish a sweep in Game 3 and Zenit looked to send the series back to Kazan with another win. Unfortunately for Vasily Karasev, key contributors Janis Timma and Artem Vikhrov had to miss the game due to injuries.

Zenit started strong, outscoring Kazan by four, 21-17, in the opening period. The visitors responded in the 2nd quarter, picking up a five-point lead at halftime, 43-38. Keith Langford and Latavious Williams led the way for Evgeny Pashutin's club, combining for 19 points in the first half.

20 minutes from booking a spot in the finals, UNICS increased the pressure in the 3rd quarter. Langford and Quino Colom did the bulk of the damage, upping the lead to 15 points.

But Zenit refused to fold. A 10-1 run put the home team back on top, 69-66, with a little over seven minutes to play.

Turning Point
With three minutes to go, UNICS trailed by five points, 79-74. With possession, Kazan had the ball stripped and gave up a fast-break basket to Omar Thomas to go down seven. Langford responded with a 3-pointer, but another tough shot from Ryan Toolson and Omar Thomas jumper put the lead at six.

Langford kept his team alive, knocking down a ridiculous '3' in the final seconds, but it wasn't quite enough as Zenit escaped with the win!

Star Player
Omar Thomas. The American made up for Timma's absence with a huge game, recording 20 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, including several huge plays and shots down the stretch.

Stat of the Game
5 - number of games in what has been the league's most exciting playoff series thus far.

Zenit head coach Vasily Karasev:
- We've been missing a couple key players more often than not, but the team still wins and I'm happy for them. We play with a big rotation and use our Russian guys. It's obvious that they can't match Langford's talent, but I'm grateful for the effort. They won today's game.

UNICS head coach Evgeny Pashutin:
- Zenit deserved to win, but the game today had a different tempo than the first meeting in St. Petersburg. We controlled the contest in the first half and almost until the end of the 3rd quarter. But we lost concentration in the 4th on defense and let Karpukhin, Antipov and Thomas get open looks. We led by 15, but relaxed and lost our concentration on offense and stopped defending. Zenit hit a few 3-pointers and got back in the game, which gave them the psychological edge. The series continues and we'll prepare for Game 5.