On This Day, 2015: UNICS upends Lokomotiv in quarterfinals

Mar 25, 2020 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
On This Day, 2015: UNICS upends Lokomotiv in quarterfinals

On this date five years ago, UNICS Kazan was responsible for one of the biggest shocks in the history of the 7DAYS EuroCup. It was Game 2 of the two-game total-points 2014-15 EuroCup Quarterfinals series and UNICS traveled to face a fellow Russian club Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, which rolled into this game riding a competition-record 20-game winning streak. Lokomotiv won Game 1 by 9 points in Kazan and the hosts seemed in control through the first half. However, UNICS outscored Lokomotiv 25-45 in the second half to win the game 58-79, overcome the 9-point deficit and advance to the Eurocup Semifinals.

UNICS dominates the second quarter

The lead went back-and-forth in the first half and Lokomotiv had a 31-26 lead - and a 14-point series cushion - midway through the second quarter. But UNICS fought back for a 33-34 halftime edge and then pulled away in the third quarter as James White scored 7 points during a 3-19 charge that bridged the third and fourth quarters to make it 44-61. White added a triple for a 20-point difference and the visitors held strong until the final buzzer. UNICS missed its leading scorer Keith Langford through injury, but White had a career-night while D’Or Fischer posted 17 points and 8 rebounds, and Kostas Kaimakoglou, who remains with UNICS to this day, added 11 points in victory. Lokomotiv, which was also short-handed, missing stars Derrick Brown and Anthony Randolph, and dressed only 10 players, was held to a season-low 58 points. Malcolm Delaney led Lokomotiv with 16 points.

James White's career-night

White led UNICS with a EuroCup career-high 29 point by making 7 of 11 two-point shots and 2 of 3 from downtown. He was also perfect in 9 trips to the free-throw line. White tallied 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block, accumulating a career-high performance index rating of 38. White earned MVP honors for Game 2 of the quarterfinals.

All the stars

Lokomotiv had a star-studded roster. In addition to Delaney, Randolph and Brown, the team also featured Richard Hendrix, Nikita Kurbanov, Krunoslav Simon, Andrey Zubkov and Evgeny Voronov, and much of that squad remained with the team the following season when it reached the EuroLeague Final Four in 2016. UNICS, in addition to the injured Langford and Anton Ponkrashov and game-heroes White, Fischer and Kaimakoglou, also had Curtis Jerrells and veteran and two-time competition champion Sergey Bykov in the backcourt.

Historic run ends

Lokomotiv entered the game on a 20-game winning streak, which dated back to the 2013 EuroCup Finals which the team won to lift the crown and continued into the 2014-15 season, which it opened with a 19-0 record. Lokomotiv was undefeated in the 10-game regular season, 6-0 in the round-robin Last 32 and then swept its two-game eighthfinals series against Brose Baskets Bamberg. The 20-game winning streak still stands as the longest in the competition, shared with Lokomotiv's run in the 2017-18 season, when the team won the first 20 games of the season to reach the EuroCup Finals.

What happened next

UNICS, which joined the EuroCup in the Last 32 after its elimination from the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in the regular season, progressed to the EuroCup Semifinals with a win over Lokomotiv, but that's where its journey ended. Still missing Keith Langford, UNICS did not manage to use its momentum, losing both semifinal legs of the two-game total points series against Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas, first on its home floor 70-83 before Gran Canaria finished the job with a 78-76 win in Las Palmas.