Storming Colom. UNICS on the first place of group in Eurocup
Yesterday Kazan UNICS played the second match of the group stage of Eurocup against Olimpija in the capital of Slovenia Ljubljana. The game ended with an unexpected victory of Kazan 83-89. The report of Realnoe Vremya presents the details of the combat.
The great past, the present 'zero tituli'
Olimpija was founded as early as 1946 and immediately gained authority both in the championship of Yugoslavia and in Champions Cup. The club always was the leading participant in the national championship of Yugoslavia. Having won the tournament in 1957, the team was one of the first who stopped Red Star Belgrade's hegemony. The team dominated in the Slovenian competitions for a long time: champion of Slovenia (15 times), champion of the Slovenian Cup (19), finalist of the Slovenian Cup, winner of Slovenian Supercup (6). What is more, in 1994, the team won Cup Winners Cup, became the champion of Adriatic League in 2022 and its finalist in 2011.
But in recent years Olimpija does not feel good – has no trophy during three seasons. In Adriatic League, where the strongest teams of former Yugoslavia compete, the team is on the sixth place among only 14 participants and has 7 victories and 12 defeats… In the final round Olimpija hosted Red Star Belgrade and lost 69:77. This tournament is headed by a well-known Montenegrin Buducnost (17-2). Slovenians also played unpredictably in the first group stage of European Cup – five victories and five defeats – what was not enough for the next stage.
In the first round of the group stage of European Cup, Olimija was defeated by Maccabi in Tel Aviv – 73-82. The team lost the first quarter, though at the beginning the host team started at 10-2. UNICS and Olimpija met for the first time in August 1998 in a pre-seasonal tournament in Slovenske Konjice where Kazan lost – 76-92. Next time they played in season 2011-2012 in European League when UNICS won a victory 81-51 in Kazan and in Ljubliana – 76-63. It is thought the series of victories in the official matches with Olimija will last for the reason that even bookmaker estimates UNICS' victory by quite low indicators. It is a Eurocup, whatever may happen here, to coin a phrase.
Strong beginning, weak end
The match started with the attack of the guests, but Kazan had a strong desire to prove they're today's leaders. Colom and Williams, who had excellent combinations together, looked good, while Keith Langford was just a god in defence. However, by the end of the first quarter, having avoiding being psychologically drooped, the host squad started to play a bit better. The quantity of faults of UNICS augmented, but, fortunately, the host team managed to derive dividends from it. After the first quarter, the scoreboard indicated 19-23.
At the beginning of the second quarter, Kazan started to play more energetically again, not giving Olimpija free space. Langford and Williams played combinations, which even not very hospitable Olimpija fans started to applause to. However, as in previous quarter, Kazan relaxed. Colom unsheathed his 'three-point' gun, not allowing the hosters to catch up UNICS. Guests won 41-36 after half of the match. It must be noted that Kazan led in assists – 13 against Olimpija's 4. It was clear that Colom warmed up in playmaker's role. He had 7 assists from the total 13. But he would have had more. Too many times Spaniard put the forwards on attacking position, but the ball didn't shoot through the hoop.
The third 10 minutes started with fouls from both sides. It seems that the teams switched 'game with no rules' mode on. Turned out, it benefited Olimpija who could get close to UNICS. But Kazan didn't allow to be outrun, trying to escape from provocations from Slovenian basketball players. Due to such game, guests managed to return advantage in score again like it was after the first half. Meanwhile, hosts' fans reacted very loudly on every whistle not in favour of their team. Maybe, because of that support Olimpija didn't allow to run far from Kazan. So, 56-61 – Olimpija didn't let UNICS make the gap wider.
The final quarter started with guests' mistakes, who allowed Olimpija to equalize, and then immediately to step forward. However, most people had a question: was there a foul during a steal? Pashutin spoke to his wards about this during a time out a little longer than it is allowed. Maybe, if not a referee who came when Pashutin was telling where Williams should run and where Colom should run, Evgeny Pashutin would tell his ideas for a long time. However, it worked, Kazan started to play hard and chalked up the game again. Langford and Colom switched the 'God' mode on. One started to block again everything near the backboard, though most part of the match failed in doing this, Colom went ahead and assisted. And when there was no continuance of an assist, he shot the ball himself. Due to this, UNICS scored points but at the end the team, as usual, started to idle and lose balls. While in attack Kazan was in a good shape, so it resulted in victory – 83-89.
13 January. Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Olimpija, Ljubljana – UNICS, Kazan 83-89 (19-23, 17-19, 20-20, 27-28)
UNICS: Langford (27 points+8 rebounds), Colom (23+10 assists+5 steals), Banic (10), Williams (8+6 assists), Parakhouski (8), Milaknis (5), Likhodei (4), Kaimakoglou (4).