Russian club Unics Kazan punched its ticket to the Euroleague Regular Season after gunning down French outfit ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne 79-88 in the final of the qualifying tournament. After a week of competitive do or die contests, the competition was whittled down to these two teams. Unics rallied back from a huge deficit to snatch the victory and become the sole owner of a Euroleague Regular Season berth. As for ASVEL Lyon, they will have to get over the heartbreak, dust themselves off, and prepare for a busy campaign in the Eurocup and French league.
Unics Kazan will now meet Real Madrid, Anadolu Efes Istanbul, Zalgiris Kaunas, Nizhny Novgorod and Dinamo Banco di Sardegna in Group A of the Euroleague.
ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne vs. Unics Kazan, 79-88
James White and Kostas Kaimakoglou sunk buckets from triple distance to start the game well for Unics, before the Russians extended to 5-10 early on. Edwin Jackson and Yohann Sangare nailed from downtown during the next minutes to give ASVEL its first lead of the game at 13-12. Unics Kazan reeled off a 2-8 run to reclaim the lead and held onto an advantage to lead 20-22 after ten minutes.
Travis Bader opened the second quarter for ASVEL with a strike from behind the arc, setting a tone that would propel the French team in the frame. During the beginning of the period Lyon saw Ahmad Nivins and David Andersen score to stamp out a classy triple from Curtis Jerrells as the French team gained a 33-27 lead. It was an important ten minutes for ASVEL as Taurean Green started to exert influence and soon there was a 10 points deficit (43-33). The explosive quarter saw Lyon rain in 33 points, while Unics stayed on 17, the score 53-39 at the long break.
ASVEL’s dominance continued in the second half as the club opened the third quarter well, with Andersen and Samara Sy scoring twos, while Edwin Jackson found net from downtown. Suddenly it was 60-41 and Lyon had a foot in the Euroleague. However, the Unics Kazan fight back started as a D’or Fischer inspired run saw the Russian team score 20 points without reply, which was enough to regain the lead. A stunning quarter ended with the teams locked at 64-64, but Unics had the momentum.
Kazan went on another streak in the fourth quarter courtesy of triples from Nikos Zisis and Keith Langford and buckets from Jerrells and Kaimakoglou. A 10 point gap had been opened with the scoreboard reading 68-78 and it was increasingly clear that ASVEL was shell shocked by the third quarter blitz from Unics. The Russian club eased through the fourth quarter, winning the stanza 24-15 to progress to the Euroleague proper.
James White led the winning effort with 21 points and rebounds, while Fischer collected 18 points and 8 rebounds. Also offering double figures for Unics were Jerrells with 15 points and Kaimakoglou with 13 points.
Andersen was pivotal in Lyon’s early success and through the game he collected of 24 points and 9 boards, proving what an astute acquisition he was for the French club this summer. Also on the score sheet were Sy and Jackson with 12 apiece.