Unicaja Malaga edged Brose Baskets 78-79
The beautiful city of Bamberg, Germany was witness to a complete Turkish Airlines Euroleague thriller as Unicaja managed to pull the road win over Brose Baskets by 78-79. Despite some double-digit leads, the game was close throughout and the final minutes were heartstopping to say the least. With 78-77 and 13 seconds to go after a Brian Roberts three, Kristaps Valters missed his shot but a providential offensive rebound and jumper by Berni Rodriguez put Unicaja ahead by one point again, 78-79. In the next play, Roberts looked for the basket again but the ball didn't go in and Unicaja managed to escepe from Freak City with the win. Now, Unicaja improves its Group B record to 2-1 while Brose drops to 1-2. Joel Freeland led the winners with 18 points and 7 boards, Luka Zoric added 13 and 7, Nedzad Sinanovic had 11 and Tremmell Darden nailed 10. For the hosts, Roberts and Marcus Slaughter had 16 points each and Julius Jenkins and Anton Gavel added 14 apiece.
The game started at a frantic pace with a first basket by Joel Freeland for Unicaja. However, Brose Baskets was soon back on track with five points by Brian
Roberts and then Casey Jacobsen added his own three from the corner for 8-4. Kristaps Valters kept Unicaja going with his layup but a new three by Anton
Gavel and two straight dunks by Marcus Slaughter to send Freak City into madness, made it 15-6 and forced Unicaja's first timeout. With Brose's 4 of 5 from
the arc at that point, it was hard for Unicaja even with its own three by Tremmell Darden. At the same time, Slaughter was still on fire in the paint and
soon was up to eight points for the 22-11 and the first double-digit lead of the night. Unicaja had a reaction with a 0-7 run including Berni Rodriguez's
three to make it 24-18, but Julius Jenkins replied with his three-point play to restore things where they were. As expected, Brose Baskets started to miss
more shots and things balanced out as Darden hit twice from the strip to leave it at a 27-22 edge for the hosts after 10 minutes.
The second quarter started completely different from the first. Despite a basket by PJ Tucker in the paint for Brose, Unicaja exploded for a fast 2-8 run
supported by Darden and capped by Nedzad Sinanovic to effectively complete the guests' comeback. Unicaja was ahead for the first time, 29-30. More than two
minutes with no points went by between Sinanovic's baskets but Slaughhter paid back by slamming on Sinanovic's face for the 33-34. Slaughter was the main
pillar or the guests to hold on to the game but Jorge Garbajosa reminded everyone that Unicaja was here to stay with his three free throws for 35-37.
Jacobsen blasted a new three, much needed by the hosts, as both teams insisted on zone defenses which allowed for better shooting options from the perimeter
and Kristaps Valters did the same for Unicaja. In the last possession of the first half, Earl Rowland managed to score for the guests on a third option to
send the teams to the lockerrooms with a 38-42 Unicaja edge.
The second half started with high level showtime on both ends. Roberts and Slaughter made sure to bring the crowd to its feed with amazing plays and dunks
for Brose Baskets, but Unicaja played its part by shutting the arena up with slams by Freeland and Zoric's long jumper that made it 46-52 for the guests.
Little by little, Unicaja started to pull away. Zoric forced a foul by Slaughter to make it a three-point play for the 48-56 edge but Gavel copied him to
restore the 5 points again. Brose Baskets was not defeated and despite some lack of organization in defense, the hosts performed well in offense and managed
to keep the deficit at a safe distance and when Roberts went in for the rainbow shot, it was a one-point game again, 59-60. Unicaja's big men were the thing
keeping the team alive at this point. In the last two plays of the quarter, Garbajosa missed and Jenkins hit two free throws to put Brose Baskets ahead
again, 61-60. There was still time for one last play and that's what Sinanovic did, as he faked the pass and with the ball in his hands, hit a three on the
buzzer to close the third period with Unicaja ahead, 61-63.
Almost two minutes went by in the decisive quarter until Berni hit a three for the 61-66. Gavel made sure to reply fast for the hosts. Nerves were pressing hard on both sides and the ball didn't want to go in until Freeland finally scored again but then Jenkins replied with a huge three to make it a 2-point game again, 66-68. Soon enough, a new hero appeared for Brose Baskets as Kaarsten Tadda appeared of nowhere for a triple-plus-foul that brought the house down and put the hosts ahead, 70-68. Fitch and Darden teamed up fast for two quick baskets that put Unicaja back in command but Tadda, again, blasted another three to put the German team ahead. At this point, and with three minutes to go, it was going to be a thriller. With two minutes to go and a 74-74 tie, Roberts missed a wide open three, and then Freeland went to the line to hit only one attempt. In the next play, Gavel fed Slaughter, who got fouled and also went to the line to also hit one for another tie, 75-75 and 1:10 to go. Fitch missed his own three and the ball was for Brose. With a zone defense, Unicaja wanted to force a perimeter shot, but Slaughter was called for charging with 30 seconds to go, and possession switched. It was turn for Valters to go to the line now and he hit both attempts for 75-77 and 25 seconds to go. Coach Chris Fleming called a timeout and when the ball went in bounds, Roberts slashed through the baseline to receive for an open three from the corner that went in and put Brose Baskets ahead, 78-77, and 13 seconds to go. With coach Chus Mateo laying out his strategy now, the last possession would be for Unicaja. With still plenty of time, Valters decided to hit a three but missed. Luckily for Unicaja, Berni pulled the offensive board and hit a fadeaway jumper that went right in and put Unicaja ahead once again, 78-79 and 4 seconds to go. Jacobsen put the ball in bounds again and Roberts received. He pulled up with a clear shot, but this time the ball didn't go in and Unicaja escaped victorious from Bamberg.
Thursday, November 3, 2011