Thomas Kelati scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half and Boniface Ndong added 19 points as Unicaja cruised past Le Mans 55-87 on the road in Group A of the Euroleague. Jiri Welsch added 14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals and Joseph Gomis collected 12 points and 8 assists for the winners, who improved to 4-2 in Group A. Unicaja forced 20 Le Mans turnovers and held the hosts to 6-of-26 from long range. The Spanish side next week will host Olympiacos. Alain Koffi was the only Le Mans player to score in double figures, collecting 15 points to go along with 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. David Bluthenthal and Brian Chase were next best with 8 points each. Le Mans is still looking for its first victory in falling to 0-6. The French side will next play at Cibona.
Kelati scored the first five points of the game and then hit another basket as Unicaja opened with a 0-9 run. Koffi finally got Le Mans onto the scoreboard nearly five minutes into the game. Kelati was on target again and Omar Cook’s three-pointer gave Unicaja a 6-15 advantage. Koffi continued his fine game with a basket and then converted a three-point play and Le Mans was within 11-17. But Welsch started a final 0-6 surge by the guests, which was completed by yet another score from Kelati, who finished the first quarter with 11 points and Unicaja ahead 11-23.
Ndong opened the second quarter for the Spanish side and Dewarick Spencer knocked down a triple for Le Mans. But Gomis answered right back with a triple and another basket, giving Unicaja its biggest lead of the game – 16-30. Bluthenthal tried to bring the hosts back into the game, draining back-to-back three balls to make it 22-30. But Ndong scored again and Kelati made his second triple of the game to make it 24-35. Le Mans remained determined and Koffi scored again and was followed by Chase’s long ball and the deficit was trimmed to 29-35. Welsch answered however and Robert Archibald’s dunk gave Unicaja a 29-39 advantage at the break.
Welsch gave the guests the start they wanted into the second half with a three-pointer. And Archibald’s two foul shots pushed the advantage to 29-44. The Unicaja defense was very strong and Spencer finally hit Le Mans’s first basket almost five minutes into the third quarter. And Antoine Diot made it 33-44. Kelati was again on target with a long ball before Chase’s triple cut the deficit back to 38-49. Unicaja however turned up the defensive pressure one more time and gave up just one basket over the final 2:30. And Kelati drained another three-pointer and Gomis and Welsch each made two foul shots in a 2-9 closing run to leave Unicaja ahead 40-58 after three periods.
Joao Paulo Batista opened the scoring for the hosts in the fourth period but Le Mans went nearly three minutes without a point as Ndong and Welsch combined for nine points in a 0-11 run for a 42-69 lead. Koffi stopped the bleeding but Gomis and Ndong knocked down back-to-back triples and Ndong made another basket to complete a 2-19 push after Batista’s opening basket for a 44-77 lead. Jeremy Leloup hit a three-ball and Pape Badiane made it 51-77. But Paul Shirley and Raimundo Lopez de Vinuesa both drained three-balls in the final stages for Unicaja.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008