Unicaja bested KK Zagreb CO 99-85
Unicaja will move into a tie for second place in Group B after a 99-85 win over KK Zagreb CO on Wednesday at Martin Carpena Arena in Malaga, Spain. Unicaja improved to 3-1 and will join the loser of Thursday’s Panathinaikos vs. CSKA duel in second place, one win behind the winner and group leader. The visitors got off to a 0-9 start and led throughout the first quarter, but Jorge Garbajosa and EJ Rowland keyed a 16-0 blitz as the hosts took control midway through the second quarter, led 49-41 at the half and never looked back. The lead reached 21 in the fourth quarter as Unicaja cruised to the win. Luka Zoric paced six Unicaja scorers in double figures with 14 against his former team, Joel Freeland added 13, Garbajosa and Rowland scored 12 each, Berni Rodriguez 11 and Saul Blanco 10. Mario Kasun led Zagreb with 23 points, Damir Mulaomerovic tallied 13 points and 10 assists, Krunoslav Simon scored 10 as did Sean May before fouling out early. Zagreb dropped to 0-4 with the loss.
Zagreb took charge at the start as May sank a triple, Kasun went inside for a basket-plus-foul and May hit from downtown to leave the stunned crowd at Martin Carpena Arena silenced at 0-9. Kristaps Valters got Unicaja going with a three-point play and then a dish to Freeland for a wicked one-handed slam to get to 5-11. Valters knocked down another triple, but the hard work of Dario Saric and Kasun inside kept the Ants on top 8-17. Rowland came in and set up Zoric for a jumper. The visitors continued to lead as Josh Heytvelt beat the 24-second clock with a triple and Ante Masic added another to make it 14-25. A Blanco triple helped Unicaja close within 19-27 after 10 minutes.
Rowland and Garbajosa rallied Unicaja in the second quarter. The former opened the scoring, then dished to Garbajosa for a tough layup in which he took a knock in the face and then the big man sank a big triple to bring his team within 26-27. Nedzad Sinanovic got to the line and gave Unicaja its first lead of the game. Another Garbajosa triple started the crowd singing and capped a 16-0 run that made it 33-27. Heytvelt got to the line for Zagreb’s first points of the quarter, but another Garajosa three-pointer and a Rowland jumper lifted the lead to 7. Alex Abrines was next to connect and put Unicaja up by double figures. Damir Mulaomerovic did not quit and came through with 2 free throws and then a three-pointer. Simon narrowed the gap to 42-37. Zoric dunked on the break to keep the hosts in control and Rowland soared through the paint to drop in a score at the buzzer and leave the hosts ahead 49-41.
May started the second half strong with a jumper and then a move on Freeland. But Tremmell Darden and Zoric – the latter with a vicious slam – kept Unicaja ahead by 8. May’s night ended early when he committed his fourth foul less than three minutes into the second half and then was slapped with a technical for arguing. Berni Rodriguez missed the resulting free throws and Simon narrowed the Zagreb deficit to 4. Damir Rancic got involved for the visitors. Soon Unicaja regrouped through Freeland, who highlighted a 6-0 push by going coast-to-coast for a slam as the hosts went back up by 10. Zoric made it 65-51 as Unicaja started to pull away. Heytvelt became the visitors’ main offensive reference and provided a highlight with a behind-the-back pass to Papa Diasse for a two-handed slam. However a deep Berni triple and then a free throw with seconds left made it 73-57 with one quarter to go.
Sinanovic extended the Unicaja cushion to 20 early in the fourth quarter. Kasun dunked on Sinanovic at the other end, but Hrvoje Peric countered with a baseline drive and slam to bring the crowd to its feet. Kasun continued to produce inside, but Unicaja’s lead was never questioned. The hosts got as far ahead as 21 before Masic and Heytvelt helped narrow the gap in the end.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011