UNICS Kazan, Russia vs. VEF Riga, Latvia

Game statistics




Pashutin puts UNICS back on track

UNICS (Russia) held off VEF (Latvia) at home for a 64-52 victory. The game was decided in the fourth quarter, where Kazan came out on top. The home team played excellent defense en route to the win, enjoying its first success in the VTB United League under new head coach Evgeny Pashutin.

UNICS planned to end its two-game losing streak in the league with its new head coach. Russian national team caretaker Evgeny Pashutin returned to Kazan earlier in the week, delighting the fans with an important Euroleague win on Thursday. Up next for UNICS: a focused, dangerous VEF squad intent on spoiling Pashutin's first game back in the league.

The visitors didn't waste any time getting started. Stiff defense led to an 8-0 start for VEF as UNICS failed to score in the first five minutes. Several 3-pointers in the second half of the period brought Kazan back, though the Latvians remained in front, 16-15.

The Keith Langford - Gerald Robinson duel highlighted the second quarter. At times, the two Americans didn't appear to see their teammates at all, going one on one every time down the court. Langford had the advantage at first, helping UNICS stake out a nine-point lead, but Robinson kept UNICS in check, cutting the VEF deficit to one point, 30-29, prior to halftime.

After the break, UNICS started to heat up again from beyond the arc. Langford and Jerrells got it started, before reserve guard Nikos Zisis drilled three 3-pointers, all in the third quarter. VEF hung around, led by Bamba Fall in the paint and more fireworks from Robinson. The UNICS lead was just two points, 50-48, entering the fourth quarter.

Turning Point
Defense was the key to this game and both Pashutin and VEF coach Nikolai Mazur did everything they could to get their men to stop the opponent from scoring. Over the first five minutes of the final period, the two teams combined for a paltry four points. UNICS's lead remained at two points, before a Nikos Zisis layup snapped a 3+ minute scoreless streak. After that, the home team could not be stopped. Kaimakoglou and Bykov converted from beyond the arc to make it a 10-point game and UNICS went on to win it, 64-52. It's an important victory for Pashutin and his club after a tough first half of November.

Star of the Game
Keith Langford. The duel between the UNICS leader and the league's leading scorer in Gerald Robinson went to the Kazan star. The experienced Langford put on another terrific performance, helping his team end its losing streak. He ended the game with 18 points.

Stat of the Game
4 - number of points scored by VEF in the fourth quarter. UNICS's defense gave them the win.

UNICS head coach Evgeny Pashutin:
- Our team played aggressive defense today. We played off our defense and kept VEF leader Robinson in check. We were also successful against their dangerous forward (Janis) Timma. Our rebounding didn't always work out, although the guys tried. There's a reason for that. Since our guards were spread out, it was hard to go after loose balls. We didn't hold the ball for too long today. Everyone played for the team, not themselves. Here's what else I'll note. During the fourth quarter, thanks to our defense, VEF only managed to score four points. We'll continue to work on improving the quality of our defense.

VEF head coach Nikolai Mazur:
- Congratulations to UNICS on the win. Kazan's defense caused significant problems. We didn't take advantage of our opportunities on offense in the final quarter. We couldn't get the ball to go in from long range or under the basket. Overall, though, we handled the challenge, keeping our opponent under control for much of the game. Our offense stopped working only at the end.

Top Performers
Keith Langford - 18 points; Curtis Jerrells - 14 points, five rebounds; Nikos Zisis - 11 points; Kostas Kaimakoglou - five points, nine rebounds.

VEF: Gerald Robinson - 12 points; Bamba Fall - 11 points, 13 rebounds.


    UNICS vs. VEF Highlights