SIG Basket Strasbourg provided the biggest surprise in Group I so far by downing Unics Kazan 78-66 at home on Tuesday. Both teams join a massive six-way tie with all teams in Group I involved. Bernard King led the winners with 17 points on 4-of-4 two-pointers and 6-of-6 free throws. Derrick Obasohan added 14, Eddie Shannon had 13 while Robert Lewin and Afik Nissim each scored 11 points for Strasbourg. Tariq Kirksay had 13 points for Unics but nobody else scored in double digits, as Virgil Stanescu, Viktor Keyru, Marko Tusek and Pavel Sergeev each added 9. Both teams were tied at 24-24 early in the second quarter but Nissim and King took over to help Strasbourg to break the game open, 46-33, at halftime. Unics needed a quick comeback to get back in the game, but it just didn't happen, as Strasbourg cruised to a well-deserved win that increases its chances to make it to the elimination rounds.
Shannon, King and Sacha Giffa stroke from downtown to give Strasbourg an early lead, 9-5. Keyru followed a triple with a layup in a 0-7 run that Stanescu capped with free throws for a 9-12 Unics edge. Shannon buried his second triple while King forced Unics to call timeout at 16-12. Kirksay stepped up with 5 quick points while Tusek tied the game, 19-19. Lewin and Obasohan helped Strasbourg to regain the lead, 24-19, after 10 minutes. Sergei Chikalkin and Dusko Savanovic stepped up for Unics but Nissim had 5 points in a 7-0 run to give Strasbourg a 31-24 margin. Kirksay buried a triple but Nissim stayed on fire and boosted the hosts' lead to double-digits, 37-27. Unics kept struggling to score, while an unstoppable King and Lewin made it a 13-point game, 42-29. King and Shannon helped the hosts to keep its margin, 46-33, at halftime. Nothing changed after the break, as King, Giffa and Lewin allowed Strasbourg to extend its margin to 53-38. Sergeev tried to get Unics back in the game, but he did not find any help around. Meanwhile, King and Obasohan helped Strasbourg to extend its margin to 66-48 after 30 minutes. Strasbourg slowed down the tempo, as Unics was limited to just 7 points in 5 minutes. Meanwhile, John McCord scored to keep the hosts fully in charge, 70-55. Three-pointers by Kirksay and Sergeev and a basket by Tusek gave Unics some hope at 73-65. A three-point play by Lewin sealed the outcome.
SIG Strasbourg head coach Eric Girard
"We were looking for our reference game and we felt it would come if everybody just played together. Tonight, the players played at a good level, even if we were not that good in the end. This is a really satisfying game in general. We never had a doubt, and remained calmed even when they get close to us. We just knew how to take over their best assets."
SIG Strasbourg forward Rob Lewin
"We all knew we would win. We had to play our game, play hard defense and pass the ball around well. We have a good team, we take one game at a time and try to win every game that we play. This gives us confidence for our next game."
Unics Kazan head coach Antanas Sireika
"In the beginning, Strasbourg was making three-pointers and was hard to control. In the second half, we changed our defense and then they drove to the basket. It was a problem of rhythm, and even if we were playing well in the end, they remained hard to control. Congratulations to SIG."
Unics Kazan forward Tariq Kirksay
"I know it would be hard, but our season is like that. We played like in other games. One quarter after the other, each one was difficult. On Strasbourg, as usual it's hard to play against them. Their standing doesn't reveal their talent. I'm glad a French team is doing good in the ULEB Cup."
Tuesday, November 13, 2007