Club profile: Unics Kazan

Sep 12, 2013 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
Club profile: Unics Kazan
Unics KazanUnics Kazan has established itself as an absolute Eurocup power in recent years and enters a new season among the toughest challengers to the throne. The team won the 2011 Eurocup title, reached the Turkish Airlines Euroleague playoffs as a newcomer in 2012 and was among the top squads in the Eurocup last season before going out to Valencia Basket in the quarterfinals. Kazan also kept alive its streak of reaching the playoffs in the VTB United League with a quarterfinals berth. With those successes as a backdrop, more trophies seem to be a sure thing on Kazan. Founded in 1991, Unics secured a berth in Russia's first division in 1997 and became the perfect ambassador for the sports-crazy Republic of Tatarstan in the Russian Federation. The club reached the Russian League finals in 2001 and 2002, the year in which it also made it to the Saporta Cup semifinals. Its hard work paid off in 2003, when Unics downed CSKA 81-82 in overtime to lift the Russian Cup trophy. In 2004, Kazan was home to the FIBA Europe League final four and Unics made the most of it by downing Maroussi 87-63 in the title game to win its first continental title behind 22 points from MVP Martin Muursepp. A new challenge came in the 2005-06 season, when Unics made its ULEB Cup debut. Unics looked strong after losing just once at home and winning its regular season group, however Virtus Roma knocked Unics off in the eighthfinals. Unics reunited the Lavrinovic twins – Darjus and Ksistof – for the next season along with Yahor Meshcharakou and Dusko Savanovic to reach the ULEB Cup semifinals, but then lost to eventual champ Real Madrid. It also reached the Russian League finals, but CSKA stood in its way. In 2007-08, Unics made it to the ULEB Cup Final Eight before falling to Akasvayu Girona in the quarterfinals. Everything clicked in the 2010-11 Eurocup as Unics won its regular season and Last 16 groups and swept its quarterfinal series against Pepsi Caserta. Once in the Finals, Unics thrashed Cedevita 87-66 in the semifinals behind 27 points from Terrell Lyday and registered a 92-77 win over Cajasol Sevilla in the title game. Marko Popovic had 18 points and a Eurocup final record 11 assists to lead Unics to the title. In the Russian League, Unics marched to a 21-6 record to finish the regular season atop the standings, but lost a grueling five-game semifinals duel against BC Khimki Moscow Region. An impressive Euroleague debut the following season showed that the club has what it takes to compete at the highest levels. Henry Domercant led Unics to third place in its regular season group and a 3-0 start in the Top 16 eventually allowed the club to reach the playoffs. Boasting an experienced roster, which saw Unics go 5-1 on the road before the quarterfinals in the Eurocup last season, and a substantial home-court advantage - Kazan represents for many teams the easternmost road trip they will ever make - Unics Kazan has the weapons in place for another serious run at Eurocup glory.