A defensive stand over most of the final quarter was enough for Unicaja to defeat Armani Jeans Milano 65-74 on the road in Italy on Thursday for its second consecutive Group B victory. The result leaves Unicaja tied at 2-1 for third place with Maccabi Tel Aviv, both teams trailing undefeated co-leaders Aris TT Bank and Lietuvos Rytas. Milano fell to 0-3 and still shares last place with Le Mans. Neither team could get the upper hand through three quarters, but when Milano went up 55-53 early in the final quarter, Unicaja responded with a 0-15 run over 7 minutes to decide the outcome. Daniel Santiago led the winners with 12 points, while Carlos Cabezas added 11 and German Gabriel 10. Milano seemed boosted by the first appearance this season of teenage phenom Danilo Gallinari, who led all scorers with 18 points, but he didn't get enough help. Travis Watson chipped in 12 points for the hosts.
Santiago dunked to get Unicaja on the scoreboard, while Bulleri started Milano with a reverse layup that Gallinari, in his first appearance this season, copied for a 4-2 home lead. Berni Rodriguez downed a pair of driving layups for Unicaja around one by Watson as everyone got near the rim without trouble. Sanitago hooked before Cabezas hit a layup to make it 6-10 for the guests. Gallinari stole and drilled the game's first outside shot, from long distance, then took a rebound and slammed for an 11-10 Milano lead. Dusan Vukcevic soon came off the Milano bench for a jumper to make it 14-11, but Cabezas hit 2 technical free throws and a three-pointer to seize the lead for Unicaja. Watson put back a rebound to tie as he traded points with Cabezas and Boniface Ndong. Watson's free throws put Milano ahead again before Vukcevic raced fullcourt with the final shot, good for a 23-20 advantage after 10 minutes for the hosts. Watson, Galinari and Vukcevic had all of Milano's points so far.
Ndong got Unicaja within a point with the first basket of the second quarter, but Reece Gaines hit Milano's second triple to make it 26-21. Gaines returned with a dunk and Vukcevic a jumper as the lead hit 31-24 and turnover-prone Unicaja needed a timeout. Ndong's free throws and a triple by German Gabriel revived the guests, but Milano's bench answered as Cheyne Gadson and newly-signed Mindaugas Katelynas added to the cushion. When Gaines fed Watson inside, the lead hit a new high, 37-29. Unicaja was hurting, but Kus and Gabriel fired in triples in a 2-8 closing run that cut the difference to 39-37 at halftime.
Watson had the only basket in 2 minutes to start the third quarter, but Jimenez hit a tough shot to keep Unicaja close, 41-39. Gallinari downed just 1 of 2 free throws, allowing Unicaja's Jiri Wlsch to make an open three-pointer force a 42-42 tie. Gallinari kept Milano ahead with free throws, but Ndong reset the scoreboard with a turnaround baseline jumper and a monster dunk putting the guests ahead 44-46. After a Milano timeout, Gallinari went coast-to-coast to score a layup over Ndong. Free throws by Rodriguez kept Unicaja up 46-48 until Gaines popped a jumper to tie again. Cabezas took over then with a free throw and a put-back among the big men to make it 48-51 and force a Milano timeout. The quarter ended as it began, with only Watson scoring in the final 2 minutes and Unicaja clinging to a 50-51 advantage.
Santiago and Vukcevic traded baskets to start the final quarter, before Bulleri reappeared with a bomb from the corner to put Milano back in front, 55-53. A technical foul on Gadson led to free throws by Kus that tied it, and really turned the momentum. Santiago lifted in a hook shot to put Unicaja back ahead 55-57 and then drew Watson's fourth foul. Gabriel scored in the post, while Kus and Cabezas hit free throws as Unicaja tried to run away at 55-62. When Popovic drilled a triple from the top, Unicaja had the game's first double-digit lead, 55-65, and soon Jimenez added a triple from the corner to that. Unicaja's defense ruled during all this time, allowing Milano just a free throw in almost 7 minutes until the guests were up 71-58 and fully in charge of their second Group B victory.
Thursday, November 8, 2007