Unics and Panathinaikos fight for top trumps

In tonight’s big Group G clash, Unics Kazan know that a win against Panathinaikos will ensure their passage to the Euroleague last-eight playoffs.

Panathinaikos are already through and a win for them will see them top the group and face Maccabi Electra in a repeat of last season’s Euroleague final. If Unics win then it will be them that reign supreme.

The last time these two sides met in Athens it was the current Eurocup champions that came away with a shock 89-83 victory. The Russian side will have form on their side as well, as they have won five straight Euroleague encounters at Basket-Hall in Kazan.

“This will be a decisive game, and we will give all of ourselves to win it,” said Unics coach Evgeny Pashutin. “The most important for us now is to recover physically and mentally after the disappointing losses we have recently suffered.”

Unics won their first three Top 16 matches and looked on course for a spot in the last eight, but two straight defeats has rocked them and they face the possibility of being knocked out if they lose and Fenerbahce beats EA7 Milano.

Pashutin added: “We will have no problems in motivation, and we are ready to fight. We’re certain there are no invincible opponents. If we play our game, we will be able to win.”

Despite being through already, Panathinaikos will want to avoid facing Barcelona in the last eight, despite beating them in the same round last season. A win will ensure the Athens team stay at the top.

“There is a big motive for us heading to this game against Unics Kazan in Russia. It is a very important game for us, but for them also,” Panathinaikos coach Zeljko Obradovic commented.

“We have the experience, since we played against them in the first round in OAKA. They are a very good offensive team and we need a very good game there to get the positiive result we need in order to get to the first place of our group.”

Fenerbahce travel to Milan knowing that a win will do if Unics lose. If Milan win, then Fenerbahce are out, regardless off what happens in Russia.

The other two games games tonight are dead-rubber encounters in Group H as Barcelona host Maccabi, with both sides through and Bennet Cantu’s fairytale run ends in Kaunas, as they face winless Zalgiris.