UNICS down CSKA at home – 94:86 (16:23, 20:18, 26:23, 32:22)
UNICS: Errick McCollum (30), Raymar Morgan (26 + 5 rebounds), Smith (14 + 5 assists).
CSKA: Mike James (19 + 6 rebounds + 8 assists), Johannes Voigtmann (12 + 6 rebounds), Janis Strelnieks (12).
UNICS had two straight losses in Basket hall (including Eurocup) and neutral record (4-4) in VTB League. CSKA (6-2) were ranked second chasing Khimki after unstable start of the season.
The teams were more or less levelled in the first quarter, but CSKA took the lead (23:16) thanks to Janis Strelnieks’ points (10 with season average of 9.1). In the second period the Red-blues even reached double digit lead twice with three-pointers of Andrey Vorontsevich and Mike James (32:22) and good defensive plays (37:27).
UNICS were coming back with efforts of Raymar Morgan (16 points by the break) and woken up Kazan leader Errick McCollum who finished the first half with a 3-pointer – 36:41 for CSKA after 20 minutes.
Johannes Voigtmann started the third quarter with 6 points in a row (47:38), but then Moscow shots were no good during 3 minutes. That’s when Morgan got the game back for UNICS (46:47). In the middle of the period McCollum got the first lead for UNICS with a long range shot (51:49). This was the crucial moment as the American with only 4 points in the first half turned on the fire mode. The third quarter featured his duel against Mike James – 62:64 for CSKA. And then the teams went into a final minutes (75:75).
McCollum continued to make clutch shots. 8 points took the lead for UNICS (79:75, 83:79, 85:82). The lead was backed by Dmitrii Uzinskii (nice finish and a block against Mike James) and Jamar Smith (crucial three-pointer 35 seconds to the buzzer) – 88:82.
Intentional fouls were CSKA’s only option, but Kazan made them all – 94:86.
UNICS saved their playoff spot and restored positive record as CSKA fell from the second place (currently taken by Enisey after win over Loko)
Errick McCollum. UNICS’ best sniper scored only 4 in the first half, but was on fire in the second (26). McCollum’s accuracy (9 of 15 FG, 6 of 8 3PT) were decisive to the game.
3. Including last season, UNICS have 3 victories over CSKA in a row for the first time. They are League’s only team with this achievement.
UNICS head coach Dimitris Priftis:
This was a great game and I’m happy for my players. For sure, this is the type of a game we expect against teams like Zenit or CSKA. We really needed a good win to improve our morale. The last month was tough. We all needed a victory like that. All of us – coaches, players, president who supported us despite those dissapointing losses.
CSKA head coach Dimitris Itoudis:
Congrats to UNICS. We started well, controlled the first half, we had energy and tranquility. The rivals put more efforts in the second half. We paid a heavy price for McCollums isolation shots – he scored 26 points after the break. Plus turnover figures say a lot: 8-17. It means we had 9 possessions less. We lacked stability. Nobody likes to lose, but sometimes we can use it as losses help get right conclusion. It was a good lesson for us, and we’ll meet UNICS in the second round. And now we have to work, watch the video, and work again.
UNICS: December 7, vs Zielona Gora.
CSKA December 8, at PARMA.