Unics Kazan ready for the Eurocup season

Unics Kazan ready for the Eurocup season

Today`s article is about a big club from Russia, Unics Kazan. They had a good 2018-2019 season: In VTB they reached the semifinals of the competition, but were eliminated by Khimki with 3-1 and in Eurocup they reached the play-offs, passed Lokomotiv Kuban in the first round, but were stopped by Valencia in the semifinals. All in all, everything was good for them. Let`s see what changes they`ve made through the summer.

First of all, some important players from last season left the team. Henry Pierria (best assister), Melvin Ejim (best rebounder in VTB), Maurice Ndour (best rebounder in Eurocup), Trent Lockett and Anton Ponkrashov are the ones that left the team. But, they managed to keep the top three players from the scoring list, Raymar Morgan, Jamar Smith and Errick McCollum. Alongside them, some important bench players like Artem Klimenko, Konstantinos Kaimakoglou, Evgeny Kolesnikov, Pavel Sergeev and Andrey Koshcheev will remain with the team.

To replenish the departures, Unics added five new players. The first player added was Haukur Palsson (27 years-old, 1.97m, SF). He played last season in France for Nanterre, where, in 38 games, he averaged 9.4 points and 3.2 rebounds. He played before in Spain, Germany, Sweden and native Iceland before coming to Russia. The first Russian player brought in was Valery Likhodey (32 years-old, 2.05m, F) who is coming back to Russia. It`s his second stint with this club, playing previously for them between 2013 and 2015. Last season he averaged 11.1 points for Anwil, helping them to win the Polish title. And the second Russian player added was Dmitri Uzinskii (26 years-old, 2.00m, F) from Nizhny Novgorod. He averaged there 6.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 22 VTB games.

The next player signed was Alex Tyus (31 years-old, 2.03m, C) a former Euroleague champion with Maccabi Tel-Aviv. Last season he averaged 7.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 30 Euroleague games with the Israeli team. He`s a very good addition in the paint for Unics because he`s one of the best rim-protectors in European basketball. Another player with huge Euroleague experience added was Evangelos Mantzaris (29 years-old, 1.96m, G), which brings valuable experience in the backcourt. He came from Olympiacos where he played last eight seasons and last year averaged only 1.4 points and 1.2 assists in 27 Euroleague games. He`s a two-time Euroleague Champion, lifting the trophy in 2012 and 2013.

The best aspect for Unics is that they were able to keep their main scorers from the last season and also their bench players. They will continue their progress and with those new additions, I expect nothing than the same results as last year at least. They also secured the services of coach Dimitris Priftis for one more year, so they will aim some big achievements for this season. Let`s see how long their journeys will be, both in VTB and Eurocup.

Photo credit: championsleague.basketball

Bogdan Vasile Tirc