The semifinal series between the two former EuroCup champs moves to Russia, where UNICS Kazan hosts Valencia Basket on Friday. Valencia will look to sweep the series to go to the final and try for its record fourth EuroCup trophy, while UNICS aims to tie the series and force a winner-takes-all Game 3 in Valencia next week.
In Game 1
In the opening game of the series, Valencia managed to survive 69-64 after trailing 44-48 through three quarters. In fact, UNICS was still ahead, 58-60, with 152 seconds to go in the game, but Will Thomas came alive for the hosts to put the win on ice. Fernando San Emeterio and Mike Tobey led the winners with 14 points apiece while Errick McCollum had 16 points for UNICS.
Errick McCollum and Matt Thomas will be in main roles in Kazan. McCollum has become a pillar for UNICS in the last months and now he's an undisputed leader on the court. He's averaged 13.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 19 appearances off the bench. Thomas is shining in his debut season in the EuroCup with 12.5 points and 1.5 assists in 19 appearances.
Keys to victory: UNICS
It's all or nothing for UNICS. The hosts have not lost a single game at home this season and will try to rely on that to add one more success to their win column. UNICS did a good job in stopping Valencia in Game 1, but a few details in the last moments allowed the hosts to claim the win. UNICS dished only 10 assists in the opening game, but if it manages to get its offense flowing, things will look a bit brighter for this game, especially if the team can keep its turnovers as low as in Game 1 when it committed only six.
Keys to victory: Valencia
Valencia has been on a roll lately and will look to continue the trend on Friday. The visitors have won 14 games in a row, but were close to having that streak snapped in Game 1. Valencia just had 1 steal in the opening game and was stuck at 6-of-23 three-point shooting, so Coach Ponsarnau's men will have to find another way to play UNICS, especially on the road, if it wants to stay on the dominant path it has been on over the last months.