Unics Kazan completed a long comeback from near the bottom of Group I when it blasted visiting EiffelTowers Den Bosch 68-50 on Tuesday to advance to the ULEB Cup elimination rounds for a third consecutive season. Unics finished 5-5 and tied with Hapoel Jerusalem, behind group winner PGE Turow (8-2) and second-place Zadar (6-4). Although they went 1-1 in their head-to-head games, Unics finished third to Hapoel's fourth due to a +14 point differential in their two games. EiffelTowers finished 3-7, good for fifth place in the group. Defense that held EiffelTowers to just 7 points in the last 13 minutes before halftime was the key to victory for Unics. Victory Keyru and Darjus Lavrinovic led the winners with 13 points each, while Nikolay Padius added 10, while Tariq Kirksay was a force of nature with 9 points, 14 rebounds, 2 steals and 4 assists. Kees Akerboom had 14 points for EiffelTowers, making him the only visitor able to score in double digits.
EiffelTowers withstood a 6-2 start by Unics to get back in the game with a 2-8 blast that included triples by Damone Brown and Jos Frederiks, the latter's good for a 10-12 visitors' lead. Unics answered by scoring the next 5 points and finished the first quarter up 15-14, but had only just begun to assert itself. After 2 scoreless minutes to start the second quarter, Unics unleashed an 11-0 run in which Lavrinovic and Kirksay split all the scoring. The Unics defense did the rest, limiting EiffelTowers to just 5 points for the entire quarter while Dimitry Sokolov added late baskets to a solid 35-19 halftime lead for the hosts. After halftime, Kirksay supplied a high lead of 41-19 before EiffelTowers rediscovered its offense, riding back-to-back three-pointers from Roye Berkowits and 4 more points from Kees Akerboom to come within 43-32. Dusko Savanovic and Lavrinovic answered before the third quarter ended with Unics holding a 47-32 advantage. The Unics defense had taken over again, and by the time Keyru drilled a triple early in the final quarter, the Unics lead was approaching 20 points again, 52-34. Akerboom helped chip away at the difference until EiffelTowers was within 56-44 in the final quarter, but that's as close as the visitors got as Pavel Sergeev and Keyru struck again from downtown to make it 65-46 and veteran Marko Tusek put the lead back over 20 points going into the final minute.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008