UNICS stop Kalev at home – 87:76 (28:18, 26:16, 17:15, 16:27)
UNICS: Jamar Smith (18+6 assists), Raymar Morgan (18), Errick McCollum (18+5 steals), Jordan Theodor (11+7 assists)
Kalev: Kyle Vinales (21+5 assists), Sander Raieste (12+8 rebounds), Sacha Killeya-Jones (12+8 rebounds)
The guests paced up from the very beginning and dominated the first quarter as Kyle Vinales and young Sander Raieste scored 13 points jointly. However, UNICS took the lead as Jordan Theodor and Alex Tyus contributed in the offense and Raymar Morgan added 9 points within 3 minutes (Errick McCollum was the only to score for Kazan besides the abovementioned). With this run, UNICS won the first quarter 28:18.
Kalev did not surrender and started the second qurter with a 9:0 run to erase the deficit and make it 28:27. Jamil Wilson woke his teammates up with a three-pointer. Later on, McCollum added three free throws and Wilson finished UNICS’ run with another one from beyond the arc. The hosts’ lead started to increase again. Theodor and McCollum were destroying the opponents’ defense and by the end of the first half Jamar Smith sank another three-pointer to mark UNICS’ significant lead – 54:34.
Kazan controlled the game and started the final quarter with a huge lead of 71:49. And this could transofrm into a cruel lesson for UNICS as Kalev – having nothing to lose – started playing aggressiely and scored a lot. Another shot by Kyle Vinales made UNICS coaches take an emergency timeout – 80:69! And this was key factor for the victory as after a small break Kazan played to fast possessions finished by Jamar Smith. Kalev had no time and strength to answer. UNICS win their 11th game of the season are only 2 wins away from Loko (and 1 game played less).
Errick McCollum. UNICS guard was one of the top scorers of the night and performed well defensively with season’s second best steals record (5).
18 points scored by three UNICS players – Morgan, Smith and McCollum. These three scored 54 of team’s 87.
UNICS head coach Dimitris Priftis:
We played well, with proper attitude for the most part. Yes, we were a bit too loose with a zone defense in the end. But I’m satisfied with the game in general. I can guess what you’re going to ask. We’ve had a number of problems in the last moment: several players injurred. Kolesnikov has back injury, Likhodei is ill, Pasha is missing as well. Therefore, I had to give more minutes to some players.
Kalev head coach Roberts Stelmahers:
This was the first game after the break and we missed three players. You wouldn’t expect a good game in this case. I think we were solid. I’m glad the team didn’t give up and fought to the end.