Recipe for success. What does UNICS need to do to dethrone CSKA?
UNICS Kazan has been trying to be the best club of the country for a long time but can't climb into first place. The sports staff of Realnoe Vremya decided to find out what the Kazan players lack to leave CSKA in the dust in VTB United League using the match Nizhny Novgorod vs. UNICS (78-80) as an example.
In case of victory in this match, UNICS would guarantee a 100% first place in Last 32 though there were not almost any doubts. Nizhny Novgorod needed this victory because it shared the second place in the group with Maccabi. The first quarter was usual except a great deal of three-pointers. The players of UNICS had 7 of them while Nizhny Novgorod – 4. In general, the game passed without any surprises, UNICS went ahead aspiring to the fifth victory in the group, as it was expected. In addition, it had little fouls. The first ten minutes ended with 31-26 in favour of UNICS.
The next quarter was less fruitful. UNICS had fewer shots from beyond the three-point line trying to assist to Williams. But Nizhny over and over made shots and scored 3-pointers. Especially Evgeny Baburin did a good job. The score probably was tied by the middle of the quarter thanks to him, in spite of the fact that UNICS took the lead at the beginning. The host team managed to leave UNICS behind when two minutes left before the end of the first half of the meeting. Kazan did not like it, of course, and dashed to attack. Overall, after the first half of the match, UNICS was at an advantage 53-51 and did not want to stop.
The 15th consequent victory was under threat
The third quarter was controlled by the Kazan players. During these ten minutes, it seemed that UNICS already won the victory. UNICS was not in a hurry to wipe the floor with the rival. If it were a match of VTB United League, UNICS probably would have tried to increase the lead during the quarter, who knows. Due to the fact that Nizhny failed to do many things, Kazan approached the final quarter 72-63.
However, it remains doubtful what happened to Kazan during the last 10 minutes. UNICS suddenly lost its accuracy it had before and committed fouls more often. Nizhny Novgorod took the opportunity and started to press. When four minutes left before the end, Kazan held the lead 77-72. The result of the match could be clear at once after when the forward of Nizhny Novgorod Semyon Antonov scored four points according to three-second rule. It was maybe the host players' bad luck or, on the contrary, the Kazan players' luck, but the game did not go into overtime. All in all the match ended 80-78. It is the third victory of UNICS over Nizhny Novgorod in this season.
Having scored 26 points, Anton Pankrashov demonstrated an incredible game. He made 6 successful three-pointers shots out of 6. This victory guaranteed the first place of the group for Kazan. Evgeny Pashutin can do experiments with the squad in the match of the sixth round with Olimpija, as he wishes. But what should UNICS do in order to become unconquerable power not only in Russian but also in European basketball? Let's find out.
To strengthen the bench
Many people would ask: 'What for?' And they have reason. No good player would like to polish the bench. However, if your good player is substituted by another good one, the match might change even with CSKA. For instance, one of the most successful football coaches Jose Mourinho opines that team should consist of 22 players who are equal in strength. Why does not UNICS find 10 players equal in strength (top players, of course) and have a stab at championships and the victory in Euroleague? There is one problem: it is said that one goes to Kazan just to earn good money. The squad is to be strengthened in order to show the top players that in Kazan it is possible to win trophies. The administration of the club probably has some ideas about how to do it without spending much money.
To improve attacking performance
Despite the fact that UNICS has the third result concerning average points per game in VTB United League, the club lacks many things to reach the indicator of CSKA. If Kazan scores 88 points per match on average, CSKA has 95.
Digging deeper, we can see that UNICS has a lower percentage of 2 and 3-point shots. As for the number of attempts, UNICS gives way to CSKA. Should Kazan increase the speed of attacks? Or should the team to prolong these attack to have combinations? Meanwhile, UNICS makes penalty shots more often compared to its two main rivals though it has fewer attempts. Should they make the rival commit more fouls? Why not, if penalty shots 'work'.
Steal is one of the most important components of the game, which is not frequently used by Kazan as wished it to be. Generally speaking, in Russian basketball, teams play more freely, for this reason, steals are a rare thing as well as blocks.
To trust Pashutin
In elite sport, constant coach is important as anywhere else. Players get used to coach and coach – to players. And it can help while fighting for titles.
This year Pashutin has a nice squad that is capable of doing many things with the ex-best striker of Euroleague Keith Langford, Parakhovsky, who reached the status of one of the best central players, sniper Milaknis, Kaimakoglou, who has settled in Kazan, two teams of five players, etc. It is a deep and interesting team that is an apparent leader of Eurocup and candidate for medals in VTB United League. Evgeny Pashutin can build a very strong and fighting team of Euroleague level.
Nizhny Novgorod – UNICS – 78:80 (26-31, 25-22, 12-19, 15-8)
3 February. Nizhny Novgorod. Eurocup
Nizhny Novgorod: Antonov (27 points + 7 rebounds), Baburin (17 points + 4 rebounds + 6 steals), Rudd (11 points + 6 rebounds), Khvostov (8 points + 9 assists), Mahalbasic (2 points + 6 rebounds), Ivlev (7), Strebkov (4), Kirdyachkin (2), Viktorov, Zaryazhko.
UNICS: Ponkrashov (26), Milaknis (12), Parakhovsky (9 points + 9 rebounds), Likhodei (9), Kaimakoglou (7 points + 5 rebounds), Williams (10 points + 7 rebounds), Colom (5 points + 7 assists), Banic (2), Panin.