UNICS comes off its second loss in the entire EuroCup season and needs to bounce back right away to get closer to the playoffs. Regular Season MVP Pierria Henry has been its main pillar until now, but UNICS is getting solid contributions from Jamar Smith and Errick McCollum as part of a high-scoring perimeter. Cedevita must bounce back right away to keep its playoffs options alive. Jacob Pullen is its main scorer, followed by Justin Cobbs and Elgin Cook. It will be an already pivotal game at Basket Hall Kazan on Wednesday.
Both teams heavily rely on their guards, but the difference may be in the paint in this game. Cedevita features experienced big man Andrija Stipanovic, a good finisher around the hoop, who is averaging 8.3 points and 4.6 rebounds as the team's starting center. UNICS is without Raymar Morgan, but Maurice Ndour (10.7 ppg., 4.5 rpg.) and the recently-signed Jackie Carmichael (7.8 ppg., 3.8 rpg.) have the physicality and know-how to battle against him in the paint.
Did you know?
UNICS and Cedevita faced each other in the 2011 EuroCup semifinals in Treviso, Italy. UNICS downed Cedevita 87-66 behind 27 points from an inspired Terrell Lyday and 18 from Kelly McCarty. Damjan Rudez led Cedevita with 16 points. None of the players from that game remain on these teams today. UNICS went on to defeat Cajasol Sevilla 92-77 to lift its first - and to date only – EuroCup trophy.
Keys to victory: UNICS
UNICS went from averaging 85.6 points in the regular season to just 74 in the Top 16, so it needs to find its spark on offense. The team has shot a very low 44% inside the arc and needs to lift those numbers by circulating the ball and finding good shots and scoring options around the basket. Erick McCollum and Pierria Henry must dominate the game tempo and stop Jacob Pullen, who can be a decisive factor in this game.
Keys to victory: Cedevita
If UNICS is struggling to score in the Top 16, Cedevita has the opposite issue. Cedevita has allowed 92.5 points per game, far more than anyone else, partly because it has given up 15.5 offensive rebounds per game. Locking down its defensive boards must be the first step to getting better, as it will allow Jacob Pullen, Justin Cobbs and Elgin Cook to be more creative on offense, with more space.