Unics Kazan and Zenit St. Petersburg will play a deciding game in their VTB League semifinal series after Zenit used home court advantage to force a decider. Awaiting the winner of the series in the final is six time VTB League champ CSKA Moscow, after the Army Men swept into the title game with a win over Khimki yesterday.
Zenit St. Petersburg and Unics Kazan are far more evenly matched though, and it is no surprise to see the series go to a fifth contest.
However, Unics, the surprise package of the Regular Season now hold its own floor in the decider and at home the Kazan club will be planning on success and a berth in the title series. It would mean a third finals run for the club, which has never tasted title success in the VTB League. For Zenit, this is already uncharted territory as the club has never even made the final four before this historic campaign.
Zenit St. Petersburg vs. Unics Kazan, 82-67
Zenit cruised for long periods of this contest as the team’s bench clicked to the tune of 50 points in the win. The hosts led from the opening tip off to the closing buzzer, buoyed by consistent scoring from the side, while maintaining a close to twenty point advantage for much of the second half. Unics were beaten all over, with Zenit pulling in 10 more rebounds (38 to 28) and dishing 8 more assists (23 to 15).
The first quarter saw the team’s trade buckets, but the tale of the tape was that Zenit was in the lead from the tip off and held a 21-20 advantage after ten minutes. The hosts pulled away for good in the second frame, streaming in 27 points and holding Unics at just 12 points. An excellent display at both ends of the hardwood meant the hosts led 48-32 through the long break.
In the second half Unics briefly rallied in the third act with a 10-22 run that caught Zenit’s roster playing in a complacent manner, and allowed the deficit to be cut to 58-54 through thirty minutes. The home team woke up in the fourth and settled the contest with a quality 24-13 run that sent the series to a decider.
Omar Thomas recorded a double-double for Zenit St. Petersburg by scoring 20 points and grabbing 13 rebounds from the glass. Ryan Toolson followed with 14 points in the win.
Unics had some excellent performances in the roster, but as a team some players simply didn’t show up. Joaquin Colom certainly did with his 24 point game high haul, so did Keith Langford with 22 points and Latavius Williams with 15 points. This three players contributed 61 of Kazan’s 67 point total.