UNICS sets triples mark to go up 1-0
In a big battle between old rivals and former 7DAYS EuroCup champions, UNICS Kazan struck first in the best-of-three quarterfinals series by downing Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar 94-88 at home in Game 1 on Monday. UNICS leads the series 1-0 and needs one more victory to reach the semifinals. UNICS hit 19 three-pointers, a new record for not only the quarterfinals but any EuroCup phase beyond the regular season. Isaiah Canaan led the winners with 18 points. Jamar Smith added 17, John Holland 16, Okaro White 13 and Jordan Morgan 10 for UNICS. Nigel Williams-Goss paced Lokomotiv with 31 points. Drew Gordon added 15 and Andrei Martiuk 10 while Kevin Hervey had 13 rebounds for the guests. Williams-Goss allowed Lokomotiv to get an 18-29 margin early in the second quarter but UNICS, led by Canaan, used a rain of three-pointers to take a 51-42 lead at halftime. The hosts kept a 68-62 edge at the end of the third quarter but Lokomotiv got within 75-73 soon after that. Holland, Canaan and White took over in crunch time to make sure UNICS kept the first win of the series.
Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Williams-Goss fueled an early 0-7 run that gave Lokomotiv a 3-7 lead. Holland buried a triple for UNICS but Hervey and Williams-Goss filled another 0-7 run that boosted the guests' lead to 6-14. Morgan stepped up with a put-back layup and Smith sank a three-pointer and a jumper for the hosts but Reggie Lynch and Williams-Goss kept Lokomotiv ahead, 13-19. John Brown and Hervey traded triples and Will Cummings bettered Jordan Theodore's jumper with a three-point play to give his team an 18-25 lead after 10 minutes. Lynch and Martiuk made it a double-digit game, 18-29, early in the second quarter. White, Smith and Brown each struck from downtown in an 11-0 run to a 29-29 tie. Williams-Goss banked in a close shot and Mantas Kalnietis added a triple, giving Lokomotiv fresh air at 31-34. Morgan hit a floater and Canaan completed UNICS's comeback, 37-37. Williams-Goss kept pacing Lokomotiv but Holland and Canaan sank back-to-back three-pointers and Brown added a put-back layup for a 45-40 UNICS lead. Canaan and Theodore each insisted from beyond the arc to keep UNICS ahead by 51-42 at halftime.
Hervey and Lynch scored down low and Williams-Goss added an acrobatic layup to get Lokomotiv within 53-48 after the break. White improved Gordon's alley-oop dunk with a three-pointer and Morgan soon made it 58-51. Williams-Goss buried a floater and Gordon dunked again but Holland kept UNICS fully in charge, 62-55. Canaan took over with a wild three-point play but an unstoppable Williams-Goss got Lokomotiv as close as 65-62. Pavel Sergeev struck from beyond the arc for a 68-62 UNICS lead after 30 minutes. Morgan took over with a tip-in early in the fourth quarter but Cummings did better with a bomb from downtown. Martiuk and Gordon scored around the basket but Smith boosted his team's lead to 75-69. Gordon silenced the crowd with a huge put-back slam and Kalnietis added a layup to make it a two-point game, 75-73, with 6 minutes left. Canaan struck from beyond the arc and Holland followed a triple with a huge dunk for an 83-75 UNICS lead. White took over with a put-back slam and a triple to seal the outcome, 88-78, down the stretch.
Canaan provided intensity at both ends to make sure UNICS successfully defended its home court. He finished the game with 18 points on 4-for-10 three-point shooting, adding 5 assists, 3 steals and 4 fouls drawn for a PIR of 16.
Lokomotiv managed to get within 75-73 with under 7 minutes left but UNICS found a go-to guy in John Holland. He struck from downtown and followed Isaiah Canaan's triple with a huge dunk that boosted his team's lead to 83-75, enough to control the game in the final 3 minutes.
Three-pointers aside, UNICS forced Lokomotiv to pick up 20 turnovers, matching its season-worst mark. It previously had 20 turnovers in Regular Season Round 7 against Virtus Segafredo Bologna. UNICS downed 11 of 13 free throws (84.6%) while Lokomotiv managed just 14 of 22 (63.6%).
Did you know?
UNICS buried 19 three-point shots, the most by any team ever after the regular season. It is a new quarterfinals record: Valencia Basket had hit 18 three-pointers against Zadar in the competition's original season back on February 25, 2003. UNICS also holds the EuroCup's all-time single-game record along with LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne with 20 three-point shots made.
Both teams face each other again in Game 2 of their best-of-three series at Basket Hall in Krasnodar, Russia on Thursday, March 25.
Monday, March 22, 2021