Unics Kazan took a decisive step towards reaching the ULEB Cup quarterfinals for the first time in club history by downing Hemofarm 73-90 on the road in Vrsac, Serbia on Tuesday night. Unics takes a 17-point lead into the return leg of the two-game series, which now travels to Kazan, Russia, for the decisive game. Saulius Stombergas led the winners with 21 points while making 8-of-9 free throws. Darjus Lavrinovic added 20 points and 7 rebounds, Sergei Chikalkin had 15 on 3-of-4 three-point shooting, while Jarod Stevendon scored 11 points for Unics. Predrag Suput had 20 points for Hemofarm, Vanja Plisnic added 13 in his first ULEB Cup game with Hemofarm this season, while Milenko Topic tallied 11 for the hosts. Chikalkin had 12 points in the second quarter to help Unics take a 33-48 halftime lead. Unics never trailed in the second half, as even when Hemofarm got within 68-76 with 7 minutes to go, Stombergas scored 7 points during a 2-11 run that allowed Unics to take full control of the series.
Topic got Hemofarm going with a corner three-pointer, but a five-meter jumper by Darjus Lavrinovic and a layup by Stevenson gave Unics its first lead, 3-4. Stombergas made a free throw and followed Stevenson's jumper with a layup, good for a 5-9 Unics edge. Suput scored in the paint, but an active Stevenson answered to cause Hemofarm to call timeout at 7-11. The hosts went scoreless for more than 4 minutes, while Darjus Lavrinovic dunked it and fired in a triple from the top of the key during a 0-11 run that gave Unics a 7-20 lead. Miljan Rakic got Hemofarm going with a layup and Aleksej Nesovic added his second basket to bring the hosts within 11-22 after 10 minutes. Milos Borisov and Yahor Meshcharakou traded baskets in the start of the second quarter, while Rakic brought Hemofarm within 15-24. Chikalkin buried a mid-range shot that Velimir Radinovic bettered with a three-point play. Ksystof Lavrinovic hit free throws and Chikalkin followed another jumper with a triple, good for a 18-33 Unics lead. Plisnic answered from downtown and Suput scored inside, but a red-hot Chikalkin had 5 quick points to keep Unics ahead, 23-38. Stevenson buried another triple, but a layup by Nesovic and a three-pointer by Plisnic gave Hemofarm some hope at 29-41. Stevenson and Suput exchanged layups, but Stombergas scored in transition and soon added a three-pointer to give Unics a 15-point lead, 33-48, at halftime.
Suput and Darjus Lavrinovic exchanged baskets after the break, as Hemofarm opted to attack the basket. As such, Topic and Suput combined for 4 free throws and Unics entered the foul bonus too early. Darjus Lavrinovic kept pacing Unics with free throws and a layup but Suput and Topic got Hemofarm within 43-54. Darjus Lavrinovic fired in a jumper that Topic erased with a put-back layup. Unics kept shining in defense, while Ksystof Lavrinovic hit free throws and Chikalkin added a triple for a 46-61 lead. Velimir Radinovic tried to change things with a dunk in a 8-1 run in which Bojan Bakic had 6 points, enough to bring Hemofarm within 54-62. Free throws by Ksystof Lavrinovic and a layup by Dusko Savanovic gave Unics a 55-67 edge after 30 minutes. Darjus Lavrinovic buried a jumper and Stombergas added free throws but Suput and Plisnic answered from downtown to get Hemofarm within 61-71 with 8 minutes to go. Stombergas fed Savanovic for a layup, and even when Topic made free throws, Darjus Larvinovic answered with a three-point play to keep Unics ahead, 63-76. Rakic buried one from downtown and soon added a layup to get Hemofarm within 68-76 with 4 minutes to go. Unics did not panic, as Stombergas took over with a three-point play, added free throws and dunked it for a 70-84 Unics lead. Savanovic scored inside while Suput and Jerry McCullough exchanged triples to fix the final score at 73-90, giving Unics a 17-point lead in the series.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007