Before the start of the first game of qualification window for the World Cup 2023, the basketball club «Astana» will have time to visit the leaders of the VTB United League — Kazan UNICS. The match will take place in Kazan on Sunday 14 November, beginning at 21:00 Nur-Sultan time.
is a Russian professional men's basketball club from Kazan, founded in 1991. In addition to the VTB United League, this season participates in the Euroleague.
- Silver medalist of the Russian Championship — 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2016, 2021
- Bronze medalist of the Russian Championship — 2000, 2003, 2005, 2009-2011, 2013/2014, 2018/2019
- Winner of the Russian Cup — 2003, 2009, 2014
- FIBA Euroleague Champion — 2003/2004
- Winner of the European Cup — 2010/2011
- Finalist of the European Cup — 2013/2014, 2020/2021
- NEBL Champion — 2002/2003
- Silver medalist of VTB United League — 2009/2010, 2011/2012, 2015/2016, 2020/2021
- Bronze medalist of VTB United League — 2010/2011, 2018/2019
The Kazan team has noticeably changed its roster compared to last season. Americans Nate Walters, Okaro White, Jamar Smith, Jordan Morgan, John Holland and Jordan Theodore, who was declared Macedonian, left the team in the offseason. Of the Russian players, Alexander Razumov and Kirill Anoshin did not extend their contracts with UNICS, Pavel Antipov moved to Nizhny Novgorod, and Evgeny Kolesnikov and Pavel Sergeev moved to «Avtodor». Only five players stayed in Kazan — Americans John Brown III, Isaiah Caanan and Russians Georgy Zhbanov, Dmitry Uzinsky and Artem Klimenko.
Three American players will make their VTB United League debuts this season with UNICS. Seasoned guard O.J. Mayo spent his first 8 seasons in the NBA with the «Memphis Grizzlies», «Dallas Mavericks» and «Milwaukee Bucks». Then there were the Puerto Rican «Athleticos de San Herman», and the last three seasons he has spent in Asia — in the Taiwanese «Daqing Tigers» and Taipei «Fubon Braves», as well as the Chinese «Hunan Jinjian Mie» and «Liaoning Flying Leopards». The American defender Lorenzo Brown in the United States participated both in the NBA and the NBA Development League teams. In the NBA, he played for the Philadelphia «SeventiSixers», Minnesota «Timberwolves», «Phoenix Suns» and «Toronto Raptors». In the Development League, he played for the «Delaware Eightysevens», «Springfield Armor,» «Grand Rapids Drive» and «Raptors 905». In addition, Lorenzo played in China in «Zhezhian Golden Bulls» and «Gunzhou Long Lines», and also managed to play for Serbian «Crvena Zvezda» and Turkish «Fenerbahce». American forward Jarrell Brantley before UNICS spent two seasons in the «Utah Jazz» team in the NBA, as well as in their farm team, the Salt Lake City Stars in the NBA Development League. Croatian shooter Mario Hezonja began his professional career in the Spanish “Barcelona” system, spent five seasons in the NBA with »Orlando Magic», «New York Knicks» and «Portland Trail Blazers», also played in the Greek «Panathiacos» and the Croatian national teams. Italian guard Marco Spissu played only in Italy in the teams «Torres», «Dynamo Sassari», «Sant'Orsola», «CUS Bari», «Casalpusterlengo», «Viola Reggio Calabria», «Dertola» and «Virtus Bologna» and won the EuroCup in 2019. Nigerian center Tony Jekiri started in the Turkish team “Bandirma Kyrmyzy” and became the champion of Belgium and the winner of the Belgian Cup with the local “Oostende”. Also in his career he was the part of Turkish «Gaziantep», the French «ASWELL» and the Spanish «Basque Country». Four experienced Russian players have joined the Kazan team this season — forward Andrei Vorontsevich has moved from “NN”, and before that he spent more than ten seasons at CSKA. Guard Artem Komolov also moved from Nizhny Novgorod, where he spent the last four seasons, and previously played for «Zenit». Guard Vyacheslav Zaitsev played in «Khimki» last seasons, and before that he played for «Krasny Oktyabr» and «Yenisei». Forward Evgeny Valiev is another ex-Khimki player who played for «Parma», «Zenit» and «Triumph».
UNICS changed almost the entire coaching staff in the offseason. The head coach of the Greek Dimitris Priftis and his assistants, too, the Greeks Thomas Niku and Valiles Simtsak, have left. Croatian specialist Velimir Perasovic became the new head coach. Velimir started his career as a player and became the silver medalist of the Olympics, World Champion, European Champion and twice European bronze medalist. He played in the Yugoslav team “POP 84”, and the Spanish “Breogan”, “Taugres”, “Fuenlabrada” and “Alicante”. He began his coaching career in his native team “POP 84”, which by that time was called “Split”. There were six Spanish teams: «Sevilla», «Taugres», «Estudiantes», «Valencia», «Laboral Kutchina» and «Basque Country». Also in his career were the Turkish teams “Efes Pilsen” and “Anadolu Efes”, the Croatian “Cibona” and the Croatian national team. He is helped by Slovenian Jure Drakslar, Greek Konstantinos Kaimakoglou, who last season played himself for UNICS, Serb Djordje Varagic, Croatian Milan Karakas and Russian Artur Bigeyev, the only coach who remained from last season.
The most effective and efficient UNICS player in the VTB United League is Croatian Mario Hezonja. In addition, the team leaders are John Brown III, Isaiah Caanan, Lorenzo Brown and Andrei Vorontsevich. Jarrell Brantley, Dmitry Uzinsky and Tony Jekiri often start of game.
“Astana” currently occupies the seventh line in the VTB United League with two victories and two defeats. UNICS is # 1 with five wins in six games. At the start of the season, they outplayed «Lokomotiv-Kuban» and «Zielona Gora». then they fought back in the match with “Yenisei”, lost to “Avtodor” and not without difficulty won against “PARMA”. Well, in the last match they snatched victory from CSKA. In the Euroleague, the Kazan team won three out of nine matches, while literally on November 12, they defeated the Greek “Panathinaikos”.
History of games:
For the entire time of the confrontation in the VTB United League, «Astana» and UNICS have met 17 times, while the capital's team managed to beat eminent rivals from Kazan only twice.
- The last time “Astana” beat UNICS was in the 2018/2019 season, and it was in Kazan.
- Bookmakers absolutely do not believe in the victory of “Astana”.
The match will take place on Sunday 14 November in Kazan at the Basket-Hall court, starting at 21:00 Nur-Sultan time. Online broadcast of the match will be available on the main page of our website.
Detailed information about the tournament, tournament tables, schedule and match results are published in the Tournaments