UNICS edges Lokomotiv to reach semis
UNICS Kazan advanced to the 7DAYS EuroCup semifinals by downing Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar 82-78 at home in Game 3 of their best-of-three series on Wednesday. UNICS will face still-undefeated Virtus Segafredo Bologna in the semifinals. Jamar Smith led the winners with 19 points, Jordan Morgan and Okaro White each added 17 and John Brown scored 10 for UNICS. Kevin Hervey had 22 points for Lokomotiv and Mindaugas Kuzminskas added 19 and 10 rebounds. Kuzminskas and Will Cummings helped Lokomotiv to an 18-24 lead after 10 minutes. The guests extended their margin to 27-37, but Okaro White and Jamar Smith fueled a 14-0 run that put UNICS ahead, 41-37, at halftime. UNICS boosted its lead to double digits, 57-46, late in the third quarter, but Hervey led an 0-10 run that brought Lokomotiv back to the game. With the game on the line, White, Smith and Morgan made the difference down the stretch.
John Holland got UNICS going with a jumper and Morgan followed a dunk with a put-back layup for a 6-4 lead. After Nigel Williams-Goss hit a floater, Holland and Hervey traded triples. Kuzminskas gave Lokomotiv its first lead, 9-11. Georgy Zhbanov struck from downtown, but Williams-Goss and Kuzminskas fueled an 0-6 run for a 12-17 score. Holland kept pushing UNICS and Smith matched Reggie Lynch's layup with a step-back jumper. Cummings followed a three-pointer with a layup for an 18-24 Lokomotiv lead after 10 minutes. Vladislav Emchenko struck from beyond the arc early in the second quarter and Mantas Kalnietis soon made it a double-digit game, 18-29. Smith downed a jumper and a triple, but Kuzminskas. Emchenko and Andrei Martiuk kept the visitors way ahead, 27-37. White sank a triple and then Zhbanov and Morgan each scored around the basket in a 14-0 run in which Smith struck from downtown and added a catch-and-shoot jumper that fixed the halftime score at 41-37.
Morgan took over with a put-back basket after the break, but Hervey followed a triple with a jumper to tie it at 43-43. Morgan and White stepped up for UNICS to restore a 50-45 edge. Dmitrii Uzinskii struck from downtown, getting help from Isaiah Canaan and Brown to boost the hosts' lead to double digits, 57-46. Lokomotiv found a go-to guy in Hervey, who scored 8 unanswered points, including a driving layup and a three-point play in an 0-10 run that prompted UNICS to stop the game at 57-56. Brown banked in a turnaround jumper to fix the score at 59-56 after 30 minutes. Smith hit his third three-pointer early in the fourth quarter. Hervey and Kalnietis rescued Lokomotiv and Kuzminskas followed a triple with a dunk that completed his team's comeback, 64-66. Morgan scored again and Brown ignited the crowd with a put-back dunk, but Hervey tied it again, 68-68. Jordan Theodore and Drew Gordon traded layups and White put UNICS in charge, 71-70, with over 3 minutes left. Brown and Lynch exchanged baskets, White answered with a put-back layup and Smith hit a jumper to make it 77-72. Williams-Goss hit free throws and added a layup to turn the game into a thriller, 77-76, with a minute left. Morgan scored in the paint and drew a couple of shooting fouls, but only made 1 of 5 foul shots, allowing Kuzminskas to bring Lokomotiv within 80-78 with 6.6 seconds to go. White drew a foul and calmly made free throws to send UNICS to the semifinals.
Okaro White was a big contributor at both ends, finding mismatches on offense and being really tough on defense. He finished the game with 17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, a personal-best 3 blocks and 7 fouls drawn for a career-high PIR of 26.
A fastbreak layup by Nigel Williams-Goss brought Lokomotiv within 77-76 with 1:01 left. UNICS needed a go-to guy and found one in Jordan Morgan, who hit a jump hook in the paint. UNICS got a couple of critical defensive stops and Okaro White sealed the win from the foul line.
Hustle made the difference in this game and numbers prove it. UNICS pulled down 16 offensive rebounds, collected 10 steals and had 6 blocks. Lokomotiv had good numbers, but all of them a bit lower: 14 offensive boards, 6 steals and 3 blocks.
Did you know?
UNICS advanced to the EuroCup Semifinals for the sixth time in club history. It won twice, downing Cedevita Zagreb 87-66 in 2011 on its way to lifting the trophy, and topping Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade in 2014, winning their two-game, total-points series 136-130. UNICS lost three times in the semifinals, always against Spanish teams - against Real Madrid in 2007, Herbalife Gran Canaria in 2015 and Valencia Basket in 2019
UNICS will keep fighting for 7DAYS EuroCup glory. It faces Virtus in Game 1 of the best-of-three semifinals on Tuesday, April 6 in Bologna, Italy. Lokomotiv has been eliminated from the competition for 2020-21.
Wednesday, March 31, 2021