Unicaja eliminates Laboral in Top 16 finale
Unicaja Malaga finished its 2014-15 Turkish Airlines Euroleague season in style by downing Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 93-84 in Malaga on Thursday. Unicaja finished the Top 16 with a 4-10 record in Group F. Laboral, which would have made the playoffs if it won, finished fifth at 6-8 due to its tie-break disadvantage against Anadolu Efes Istanbul. Ryan Toolson led the winners with 17 points. Jayson Granger added 15 and 6 assists while Caleb Green had 11 points for Unicaja. Fabien Causeur led Laboral with 21 points. Fernando San Emeterio tallied 16 points and 8 rebounds while Darius Adams scored 12 points for the guests. Laboral overcame a slow start and a three-point play by Adams tied it at 12-12. Granger and Green stepped up to give Unicaja a 20-16 edge after 10 minutes. Causeur led a 0-9 run that tied it at 28-28. Unicaja found a new go-to guy in Toolson, who got plenty of help from Suarez to give the hosts a 43-36 margin at halftime. Granger and Toolson took over after the break, allowing Unicaja to extend its lead to double digits, 70-59, at the end of the third quarter. Nothing changed after that, as Unicaja boosted its margin to 85-68 and held off Laboral's comeback to seal a prestigious win.
First quarter: Unicaja's defense put hosts ahead
Toko Shengelia got Laboral going with a fast break layup, but he didn't find much help around in the opening minutes. Meanwhile, a tip-in by Will Thomas and a turnaround jumper by Vladimir Golubovic gave Unicaja a 4-2 lead. San Emeterio split free throws and a layup by Suarez boosted the hosts' lead to 6-3. San Emeterio hit his trademark driving layup, before Golubovic scored down low. A backdoor basket by Thomas extended the hosts' lead to 10-5. Causeur split foul shots and a second-chance triple by San Emeterio brought Laboral within 10-9. Suarez scored in the paint, but a three-point play by Adams tied it at 12-12. Jayson Granger hit a fadeaway jumper, Colton Iverson made free throws and a fast break slam by Caleb Green ignited the crowd at 16-14. Causeur returned to the foul line for 2 more, but Jon Stefansson and Green boosted Unicaja's margin to 20-16 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Suarez, Toolson keep hosts in charge
Green stayed on fire with a layup-plus-foul early in the quarter, as Laboral kept struggling to score. Mirza Begic split free throws and a five-meter jumper by Granger boosted the hosts' lead to 25-17. San Emeterio nailed a step-back jumper but Mindaugas Kuzminskas erased it with a jump hook and split foul shots for a 28-19 Unicaja lead. Mike James took over with an acrobatic layup and soon added a put-back basket to bring the guests within 28-23. Causeur struck from beyond the arc and hit foul shots to tie it at 28-28, after a 0-9 run. Ryan Toolson found space for an uncontested layup, Kim Tillie split free throws and a one-handed jumper by Granger gave Unicaja a 32-29 margin. German Gabriel scored around the basket. Causeur answered with a driving layups, but back-to-back baskets by Toolson made it a 7-point game. Suarez hit a jumper but Shengelia and Causeur got Laboral within 41-36. Another long two-pointer by Suarez fixed the halftime score at 43-36.
Third quarter: Unicaja takes off
Iverson beat the shot clock with a turnaround jumper immediately after the break, but Thomas improved on that with a three-pointer. Adams provided a highlight with a fast break slam only to see Granger quickly answer with a six-meter jumper off the dribble. Fran Vazquez and San Emeterio exchanged baskets, but an unstoppable Granger gave Unicaja its first double-digit lead, 54-44. A three-pointer by Toolson caused Laboral to call timeout at 57-44. Stefansson took over with a driving layup and Thomas matched Shengelia's turnaround jumper with a big basket in the low post. Iverson hit free throws and San Emeterio brought Laboral a bit closer, 61-50. Toolson hit a stop-and-pop jumper that Causeur improved with a triple. Toolson nailed an off-balance jumper and even though Causeur answered with a three-point play, Stefansson and Kuzminskas gave Unicaja a 70-56 advantage. James brought Laboral within 70-59.
Fourth quarter: Granger helps Unicaja to victory
Green buried a three-pointer early in the quarter and free throws by James kept Laboral within 73-61. Golubovic took over with a backdoor layup, Begic hit his trademark jump hook and a big triple by Toolson made it a 15-point game. Kuzminskas scored in the low post, forcing Laboral to call timeout at 80-63. Tillie tried to ignite the guests' comeback with a bomb from downtown and a power basket in transition. Granger hit one from beyond the arc and fed Kuzminskas for a fast break slam that sealed the outcome, 85-68. Laboral tried to speed up the game tempo by using shorter possessions but Unicaja kept full control of the game and denied the guests the access to the Euroleague playoffs, allowing its fans to celebrate a last home win in the 2014-15 Turkish Airlines Euroleague season.
Thursday, April 9, 2015