Flight to Kazan & St. Petersburg searching first win in the EuroLeague
A short dinner after the Braunschweig game in the Audi Dome Lounge, a night in their own beds and a lighter training session the next morning and then less than 20 hours after the successful BBL outing against Lower Saxony Lions (96-80), the Bayern basketball players left for Russia on Monday afternoon. The schedule includes the first "double-week" in the EuroLeague - the first two of three consecutive away games for the Munich team in the premier league. On Tuesday (Oct. 12, 18:00), they will play Unics Kazan in Tartastan, which earned the right to start in the Beletage as a EuroCup finalist. On Thursday (19:00), they continue 1,500 kilometers west in St. Petersburg at Zenit, which has started with two wins.
Both Kazan and Zenit did not have to play in the Eastern European VTB League this weekend and can prepare for the Munich team well rested. Like all Bayern games, they can be seen live on MagentaSport. On Sunday (Oct. 17, 15:00), Giessen will come to the Audi Dome for the third game in six days.
Three games in six days
"It's the first Double-Week and the first thing we have to do is take it one game at a time," said head coach Andrea Trinchieri. "In Kazan we will face a team loaded with a lot of talent. We will have a tough night on defense and offense. We have to limit their talent and show a very consistent performance this time."
First, the 2011 EuroCup winners and three-time Russian Cup winners await Bayern. It is the duel of two teams that are still without a win after two games. While Bayern "made a step forward" (Trinchieri) against Braunschweig despite their personnel shortages, Kazan may find itself under a bit more pressure in its third home game in a row. Both the Russian rivalry game against St. Petersburg (70-69) and most recently against AS Monaco (88-80) ended as lossess. At the same time, Kazan is considered ambitious; on their own homepage, coach Velimir Perasovic was quoted as saying before the start: "Of course we want to achieve more than just the playoffs - we want to reach the Final Four."
The transfer of former NBA pro Mario Hezonja (Orlando, New York, Portand) proves these claims as the Croatian turned down an offer from Panathinaikos to extend his contract this summer for the princely offer from the Republic of Tartastan. He is the top scorer of the club after two games with an average of 15.5 points. Playmaker Lorenzo Brown (10 ppg, 5 apg) joined from Fenerbahce, while rebound specialist Tonye Jekiri (5.5 ppg, 5 rpg) joined from Baskonia. US guard Isaiah Canann (14 ppg), who also has six years in the NBA behind him, and compatriot John Brown (12 ppg) have also scored in double figures on the wing.
Unics with former NBA pros Hezonja and Mayo
In addition, Zenit signed another former NBA professional on short notice: O.J. Mayo has had no less than 547 appearances overseas with a proud average of 13.8 points. The 33-year-old guard transferred after an engagement in China and could make his debut on Tuesday.
Circumstances in Russia regarding the Corona pandemic are known to have worsened, so that Kazan can reportedly only allow 500 fans in its "Basket Hall" (7,500 seats). Similar restrictions (probably around 1,000 fans) are likely for St. Petersburg.
"Unics has an incredible amount of quality on paper," says guard Darrun Hilliard, who played for ZSKA Moscow the last two years. "And I also know Coach Perasovic from our time together in Baskonia, a good coach. Against them, we definitely have to come out of the locker room with maximum energy."