Let’s be honest, we all thought Unics Kazan would at least be in the final qualifying match to determine the last Euroleague spot.
Well, thanks to Le Mans, that didn’t work out how we thought it would.
Credit to Le Mans though, they never gave up and hit Kazan when it mattered. They executed their plays and Kazan didn’t. The French side now have a shot of that final spot in the Euroleague later tonight and Unics Kazan are now resigned from the qualifiers to play Eurocup basketball for this season.
For the Russian side though, they will feel like they deserved that final spot; after all they are full of Euroleague experience and have brought players in especially to improve on their credible quarter-final finish last season where they fell to Barcelona.
Coach Aco Petrovic’s job will hopefully not come into question on the basis of this defeat, and hopefully he’ll be given more time. Upsets happen in sport. And Le Mans are a good side.
There was even going to be a Unics vs Panathinaikos Group A encounter where Kostas Kaimakoglou and Ian Vougioukas would return to the OAKA to face their former clubs.
But it will now it will have to wait for another year at least.
For Kaimakoglou and Vougioukas, this was definitely not on the agenda though. Two Euroleague winners with Panathinaikos and seasoned veterans in the premier European club competition, they were fighting for a spot in Group A and missed out. Now for these two, an unfamilar setting of Eurocup basketball will now dawn on them this season. There are still familar names in the hat; Galatasraray, Cibona Zagreb, Spirou Charleroi amongst a few.
Unics Kazan’s rich history with the Eurocup though will have another season. And they might be welcoming back last season’s all-Euroleague second team star Henry Domercant who now plays for Galatasaray.
While they were favourites to win the Euroleague qualifying rounds, Kazan will now be favourites to win the Eurocup. A strong roster that would beat some Euroleague sides as well. They won this competition in the 2011 and could be set to win it in 2013 as well, but could the “tag” of favourites lead to their downfall a second time?