Being in one’s shoes: UNICS clinches a victory from Crvena Zvezda in 60 seconds
Evgeny Pashutin's players managed to win the match they were losing during 39 minutes at the last moment like in the mirror kingdom (65-62). The second win in Euroleague ironically became a reflection of first three matches when UNICS took the lead in the game but failed the end. Realnoe Vremya tells about Pashutin's guys changed the roles in Euroleague.
UNICS equal to Crvena Zvezda: unlucky mates or opponents for light at the end of the tunnel?
Concentration of UNICS in Euroleague is becoming more obvious in the last weeks. Judging by the maximum organisation that the Kazan players had in Istanbul and their laxity in the match against Khimki, the interest in the United League and the level of motivation in matches of the domestic championship have considerably fallen. And how! It is quite difficult to switch to the domestic championship where the opposition is different and venues don't excite when you play to a full house and venues accommodate at least 10,000 spectators every week and oppose to either Carlos Navarro or Bobby Dixon.
In addition, a spoiled Kazan fan is not very interested in the domestic championship, and the venue with a capacity of 7,000 people is almost full only when European top clubs play. So it is absolutely logical to put all the effort to 'Europe' where Evgeny Pashutin's team is not able to do everything. Why should they fight for first prizes on the domestic stage if they don't show what the team is able to do in Euroleague then?
Guests from fraternal Serbia arrived in Kazan with similar symptoms. The champion of the Adriatic League is not very successful at home at the moment: only Budućnost from Montenegro is a decent rival. Crvena Zvezda has won all the matches – 8 victories in six matches.
We still remember how UNICS confidently paved the way to the Eurocup under Andrea Trinchieri. In 2014, the Greens actually walloped Crvena in the semi-final. The squad of that team has changed, and Montenegrin Dejan Radonjić visited Kazan as head coach of Belgorod 2,5 years later.
Like at home
The Serbian player had fans. One could notice fans who wore red and white striped T-shirts and local guys – fans of Spartak – in the foyer when 30 minutes left before the kick-off. Support of each other among the fans of these teams became a good tradition a long time ago. In general, there were many spectators who had white and red things – Serbs working in Kazan came to support their compatriots. So the fan sector of the guest team was bigger, while the local sector is reducing. However, three players from Rubin came to support UNICS with their wives. Sánchez, Zambrano and García occupied seats near the court and ate popcorn and drank Coca-Cola heartily. I wonder how does this comply with sport nutrition principles? Let Javi Gracia answer this question. Back to the court.
Serbian players rushed to score points and took the lead for a long time with great support. Kazan players' attempts to shoot three-pointers failed. Keith Langford shooting touch was off. New player Orlando Johnson managed to shoot the only three-pointer. Meanwhile, 50% of shots of the guests from the three-point line were successful. Nemanja Dangubić and Luka Mitrović did their best. But the Greens recovered the parity due to Langford's throw in the last minute – 17-17.
The teams continued playing in the second quarter in the same manner. UNICS tried to press Crvena Zvezda who did not let the opponents get closer than 3 points. It was probably the first time in this Euroleague when Pashutin's team did not hold the lead from the beginning of the match. The teams approached the half-time break 27-32.
At the bottom without Keith
After the break, Serbs cemented their excellence with the help of the next three-pointer. And when Wilson made a mistake in a return attack, defender of Rubin Sergio Sánchez showed a corresponding gesture like he helped the referee from his chair.
Meanwhile, Langford remained on the bench for a long time, and the game went wrong. Kazan players failed their long and free throws. There were many slips in assists. At one point Serbs managed to increase the margin by 10 points. However, Pashutin's player began to play simpler and defend angrier in the second part of the quarter. Then appeared Keith Langford who had a good rest. 41-43 at the end of the third quarter. After the game, Keith said that the break helped him to change his attitude and demonstrate a crazy end.
Marko Banic started to play more actively. The Croatian forward doesn't seem to be the person of the last month at all. He looked like Marko who has just joined UNICS. In a talk with the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya, Marko admitted the final success was the team's merit.
One more long shot by Orlando Johnson help to level the score – 45-45. But Marko Simonovic's long shot put Zvezda ahead with a 3-point excellence. The American who has just joined the team was confident on the court.
A bit later same Simonov's three-pointer expanded the margin to 9 points, which was shameful for UNICS, during 4 minutes. The coach of the guest team Dejan Radonjić started to walk along the bench as if he had found himself in the hot seat, while his assistant stood up to calm him down. The coach of Zvezda worried for a reason.
It seemed the Kazan team was substituted. Players of UNICS started to fight for the ball in defence. Keith Langford was carried away and started to score points one by one – long shots, dribbles, free throws. So the score was 58-60 when one minute left before the end of the fourth quarter. But Serbs won two points.
UNICS had 24 seconds to equalise the score. But Keith doesn't stint: he crossed the centre of the court and shot from outside the arc – 63-62. The wall built by UNICS players in the last seconds seemed to be unbearable for the guests who had a foul in attack – 65-62. The victory of Pashutin's players showed the lost ends of the first Euroleague matches like in the mirror.
UNICS (Russia) — Crvena Zvezda (Serbia) — 65-62 (17-17, 10-15, 14-11, 24-19)
UNICS: Langford (23), Colom (5), Panin (2), Kaimakoglou (2), Parakhouski (2) – starting line-up; Williams (10+9 rebounds + 4 blocked shots), Banic (10), Voronov (6), Johnson (5).
Crvena Zvezda: Kuzmić (10 + 9 rebounds), Mitrović (9 + 7 rebounds), Dangubić (8), Jenkins (4), Jović (3) – starting line-up; Wolters (11), Simonović (9), Bjelica (5), Lazić (3), Gudurić (0).