Is UNICS leader of Eurocup?
On 27 January, UNICS Kazan hosted Maccabi Tel Aviv. The match ended with a confident victory of the Kazan players 78-68. Both teams are planning to win Eurocup. Realnoe Vremya tells who else is going to win in Eurocup and goes into details of the match UNICS versus Maccabi. Photo report
Match scenario like in Tel Aviv
The beginning of the game turned out hot: Maccabi wanted to score points immediately with the intentions of avoiding the problems in the future. UNICS, undoubtedly, did not allow their aim to come true, it actively stood up to the enemy and dangerously attacked. Like a week ago, Keith Langford was the star of the court. He scored points as well as collected the opponents' fouls. In three minutes, the Israelis already had 5 fouls, whereas the Russians – only one. By the end of the first quarter, it seemed that UNICS turned its turbo boost on and started to score the points one by one. As a result, 24:18.
By the middle of the second quarter, UNICS began to step on the gas. Maccabi had nothing to oppose to the Kazan pressure and lost the first half of the match 32-24. Here we would like to point irrepressible Langford out who managed to score 16 points during 20 minutes.
The third quarter passed at a leisurely pace as it seemed to be at first sight. The Israelis took the opportunity and trimmed the lead. Even Keith Langford's comeback did not help. When the quarter was going to end in a tie, the American assisted twice, so UNICS took the lead – 54-50 after the third quarter.
In the final quarter, the Kazan players 'changed gear' and did not stop. Anton Ponkrashev was especially active. His three-pointers made the rival sad. At the very end, Williams was carried off and scored 14 points. All in all UNICS won 78-68! Scored 20 points, Keith Langford was the scoring leader. This game allowed the Kazan players to approach the victory in Eurocup. We offer you to get acquainted with all leaders and their chances to win.
- Israeli leader
In recent years, Maccabi regularly would reach the quarterfinal of European League. In 2013-2014, having defeated one of the best teams of Europe Real Madrid, the Israelis won the competition. In this season, the team from Tel Aviv has good chances in Eurocup despite two defeats in succession inflicted by the key rival of the group.
Chances to win in Eurocup (by Realnoe Vremya): 60%.
- Hopes of Kazan
UNICS is supposed to be one of the favourites of Eurocup during some time. The Kazan players reach the play-off without any problems, but they lack something to win the tournament. In 2014, UNICS took part in the final of the second European contest in order of importance but gave way to Valencia (Spain). What is more, no one would say the Spaniards had any great advantage.
In this season, the Kazan players are successful in the elimination round. In the first round, UNICS shared the first place with Aris (Greece). Moreover, Kazan's win/loss differential is better: +76 versus +32 of Aris. In Last 32 UNICS had 4 victories in four matches played, so it got a ticket to the play-off. Indubitably, it happened thanks to 'fiery' Colom and Langford.
Chances to win in Eurocup: 50%.
- Spanish dark horses
The so-called dark horses should not be forgotten because they can attack at any time. Gran Canaria is meant to be one of these clubs by right. The team will never set the Thames on fire, but the collective is a fighting one. In the last season of Eurocup, it reached the final but gave way to Khimki in all respects.
In this season, the Spaniards are performing well. In the first group stage, having only two defeats (one of them was inflicted in overtime), Gran Canaria took the lead. In Last 32, the team is likely to fight for the first place with Strasburg, reach the play-off and make a noise.
Chances to win in Eurocup: 10%.
- Dandies from Milan
In general, Italian sports teams are losing ground recently. There is probably only one exception – Juventus in football. In basketball, Milan did not give ground, unlike its football colleague. On the contrary, Milan became the champion of Italy in 2014. The team also often participates in European League but do it hit-and-miss. In 2014, the team managed to play in the quarterfinal but was beaten by the future leader Maccabi.
In this season, the Italians played in Eurocup but left European League. They were too close to be in top 16. The team won three matches out of four games and has a very good chance to obtain the trophy.
Chances to win in Eurocup: 30%.
- The most successful German club of recent year in Eurocups
In spite of the fact that last time Alba was the champion in 2008, this capital club is the most successful German club in some recent years. It is a regular participant in Euroleague and a very go-ahead team. In 2013-2014, the Germans reached the quarterfinal but conceded to the future winner and UNICS' offender – Valencia. In the first match of that series, the basketball players of Alba lost everything possible and in the second match, they managed to win. Consequently, they raised their own and fans' spirits.
In this season, having taken the third place in the Championship of Germany, the team could play in the second cup of Europe in order of importance. In the first group round, the players of Alba bore no resemblance to themselves and took only the fourth place. In Last 32, the club is playing a bit better.
Chances to win in Eurocup: 20%.
- Turkish wild card
Galatasaray appeared in Eurocup due to a wild card. But this team cannot be called weak. In the last season, the club reached the top-16 of Euroleague, earlier they had played in the quarterfinal where was whitewashed by Barcelona. This year, Galatasaray took the first position in the first group stage and in Last 32 it is a leader as well as Zaragoza (Spain). The Turkish team will probably go further. What happens further on will depend on the players and draw.
Chances to win in Eurocup: 30%.
- Eurocup's habutuè
Valencia plays in Eurocup for the second consecutive time. It is difficult to be in Euroleague when you are playing with Barcelona and Real in one championship. Despite this, these Spaniards are one of the key players of Eurocup. Valencia regularly reaches the quarterfinal, in 2014, for instance, it managed to win Eurocup when the Spanish players won their Kazan colleagues.
In this season, having won all 10 matches, the team easily went through the first group stage. But some problems arose in the next stage: two victories were followed by two defeats. Nevertheless, it won't stop Valencia on its way to the play-off. And at any moment they can become the winners. It is possible that Valencia will meet with UNICS; they often played in recent years.
Chances to win in Eurocup: 60%.
- What about the others?
We would like to mentions some teams that also have chances to win, though they are not so good. It is German Bavaria, French Strasburg and Zenit. Generally speaking, every team has chances. This is why the professional sport is interesting: unexpected club suddenly wins.
So, the people of Kazan just need to believe in UNICS, which on 27 January won its thirteenth victory on the trot. The players probably want to win trophies in this season. It is high time to put a new cup in the museum of the club.
UNICS (Russia) – Maccabi (Israel) – 78-68 (24-18, 19-14, 11-18, 24-18)
UNICS: Langford (20 + 9 rebounds), Ponkrashov (15), Williams (12 + 8 rebounds), Kaimakoglou (11), Milaknis (8), Colom (5 + 8 assists), Parakhovskiy (4), Likhodey (3), Banic (0).
Maccabi: Landesberg (16 + 11 rebounds), Mbakwe (15 + 12 rebounds), Smith (11).