Valencia have drawn first blood in the Eurocup Final, two-leg series by beating Unics Kazan 80-67 at the Pabellon Fuente De San Luis in the first leg on Thursday night.
However, the Liga Endesa side, fresh off ending Real Madrid’s unbeaten record, domestically over the weekend spurned a 33-point advantage in the third quarter to leave the Russians with a fighting chance as the second leg now heads to Russia next Wednesday.
Unics outscored Valencia 23-6 in the final quarter after they had won all three quarters comfortably and went into the final quarter 74-44 ahead.
Valencia though grabbed there first win over Unics this season, after losing to them twice in the Round of 32. Unics Kazan has not lost at home in the Eurocup this season, and has won their last three games by an average of 23.3 points a game.
Justin Doellman led Valencia with 28 points and 6 rebounds but fell off the radar in the final period, literally like the entire team did, as Kazan chipped away at the lead in the fourth, despite Valencia coach Velimir Perasovic’s numerous attempts to disrupt the visitors rhyhnm. It just didn’t work.
Despite the work ahead, Perasovic is reasonably happy.
“I think it is a good result for us in general terms,” he said. “Of course, we left with a bitter taste because we would have liked to keep a bigger lead. I give our opponent a lot of credit for their rally. The team had a great game, dominating it for three quarters, but in the last six minutes we lacked strength and concentration, rushed our shots and stopped playing defence.
“We picked up a lot of loose ball fouls that cost us free throws and made our opponent’s work easier. We knew this is an 80-minute series and after 40 of them, we have a good lead, which is not definitive. We still have a war to attend in Kazan against a talented, experienced team. “
Vladimir Veremeeko, the sole survivor from the 2011 Eurocup-winning squad, led Kazan with 17 points in what was his best game in a Unics jersey this season.