UNICS Kazan hosts Galatasaray Doga Sigorta Istanbul in a clash of former champions coming off Round 2 defeats, which they will try to stop from turning into a losing streak. UNICS struggled with its two-point shooting (43.2%) and committed 15 turnovers in falling to AS Monaco. Only six players scored for Galatasaray, which got just 12 points off the bench in losing to Rytas Vilnius. It will be a special game for UNICS players and Alex Tyus and Errick McCollum who both played for Galatasaray in the past and visit their old home with UNICS.
Three of the top five scorers in the EuroCup will take the floor in this game with Errick McCollum (second, 16.9 ppg.) and Jamar Smith (fourth, 16.7) suiting up for the hosts and Aaron Harrison (fifth, 16.7) for the visitors. McCollum and Harrison are both combo-guards who start alongside natural point guards (Jordan Theodore for UNICS and Tai Webster for Galatasaray), but will handle playmaking duties at times, too. A big game from either, which might include wearing down the other on defense, could shift the outcome of this game.
The past is all in UNICS's favor, which is 4-0 against Galatasaray in previous EuroCup encounters, all of which have come in the round of 16. UNICS swept Galatasaray in the 2009-10 season and again in 2012-13. Both those seasons saw Galatasaray end its season in the Last 16, which was also UNICS's fate in 2010. UNICS won their group in 2013 before getting ousted by Valencia Basket in the quarterfinals. UNICS is also 3-1 in past EuroLeague encounters, taking its record to 7-1 against Galatasaray.
Keys to victory: UNICS
UNICS is one of the worst rebounding teams in the EuroCup Top 16, ranking second-bottom in overall rebounds (32.6 rpg.) and tied for fourth-bottom in offensive rebounds (9.0). Galatasaray has a trio of big bodies averaging at least 5 rebounds per game and Alex Tyus and Raymar Morgan will be tasked with keeping the home team strong on the glass. UNICS has managed to win games while being badly outrebounded (Rytas Vilnius had 15 more rebounds when UNICS won in Vilnius two weeks ago), but that puts more pressure on the guards to score and get back fast on transition defense. Holding off Galatasaray on the glass would make things much easier.
Keys to victory: Galatasaray
Galatasaray has committed the second-most turnovers of all Top 16 teams (15.3), while UNICS has made the fewest (12.2). That difference on three extra possessions per game could not only make the difference in the outcome, but in a game between evenly-matched teams where the final score may have major tiebreaker implications, three more possessions could be huge. Tai Webster and Aaron Harrison must keep the offense flowing, but make sure that every offense counts in this tough road game.