Hezonja's UNICS lock up Zalgiris in the fourth quarter to secure a victory

2021-12-17 17:42
Credit: Roman Kruchinin/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Credit Roman Kruchinin/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

UNICS Kazan (10-6) eased past Zalgiris Kaunas (3-13) 66-53 (13-12, 13-11, 16-19, 24-11) to get their third consecutive Turkish Airlines EuroLeague win.

Lorenzo Brown, Tonye Jekiri, and Mario Hezonja opened the fourth quarter with their successful baskets. UNICS arranged a 10-0 push and created a double-digit advantage for the first time in the match (52-42). Zalgiris could not score a single basket for four and a half minutes.

Niels Giffey terminated the silence, registering a duo, but Tonye Jekiri converted a 2+1 play while Isaiah Canaan scored 5 points in a row and UNICS' lead reached a solid 16-point mark (60-44). After this knockdown, Zalgiris could not recover as UNICS celebrated the convincing W.

Player of the Game
Mario  Hezonja
Mario Hezonja
Points 20
Accuracy 8-15
Rebounds 6
Assists 0

For the winners, Mario Hezonja posted 20 points (4/9 2PT, 4/6 3PT), 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 1 block, 3 drawn fouls, and 22 PIR.

"Honestly, I don't know what sport we played in the first half, both teams. If I were a coach, I would get us to practice, now, after the game. That was embarrassing, a little bit. But hopefully, we woke up in the second half, especially Tonye with big plays, Lorenzo with big plays, and big shots from Isaiah," said Super Mario post-game.

Tonye Jekiri was one rebound away from double-double performance, accumulating 11 points (5/7 2PT, 1/1 FT), 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 1 block, 2 turnovers, and 20 PIR.

"We broke the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter and I think our defense was, during the whole game, correct. We had some problems on offense but it is not easy to play two games a week, have a good three-point percentage and play easy. Sometimes you need a win like the one today," told Velimir Perasovic.

Josh Nebo was the most effective player for Zalgiris, registering 7 points (3/4 2PT, 1/2 FT), 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 2 blocks, 4 drawn fouls, and 17 PIR.

"We tried but lost control again on offense. We allowed Hezonja to make three-pointers in the same way. This was maybe the key. After that, we couldn't find the rhythm on offense against their switching defense. We had problems and that was the end of the story," commented Jure Zdovc.

After the close first half, UNICS organized a 7-0 spurt in the mid-third period (42-35). Mario Hezonja was guiding the path, scoring 11 points in total in the third quarter.

Though, Zalgiris, led by Janis Strelnieks and Josh Nebo, responded and tied the game at 42 before the last 10 minutes of the game.

UNICS: Mario Hezonja 20 (6 REB), Isaiah Canaan 11, Tonye Jekiri 11 (9 REB), Lorenzo Brown 9 (10 AST, 17 PIR).

Zalgiris: Marek Blazevic 9, Janis Strelnieks 9, Tyler Cavanaugh 8 (4 REB), Josh Nebo 7 (7 REB), Edgaras Ulanovas 7 (5 REB).



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