Unicaja spanked Aris TT Bank 73-52 to retain a share of first place in Group B. Unicaja improved to 6-2, the same as Lietuvos Rytas. Maccabi Tel Aviv could join the two with a win on Thursday. The victory was Unicaja’s 12 consecutive Euroleague win at the Martin Carpena Arena and avenged a season-opening loss to Aris in Greece. Aris lost its third straight road game and dropped to 4-4 overall. The hosts took charge in the opening period as a red-hot Carlos Cabezas scored 10 in a row to give Unicaja an 18-9 lead. Aris came back through Dimitrios Tsaldaris and Bracey Wright to get within 31-26 by halftime. Berni Rodriguez’s defense led to a pair of Boniface N’Dong slams at the start of the third as Unicaja started to dominate and the game turned into a bowout early in the fourth as Bojan Popovic and Davor Kus lit it up from outside as Unicaja built an insurmountable 25-point lead. Marcus Haislip led the hosts with 18 points and 4 blocked shots, while Cabezas added 14. Hanno Mottola, not expected to play due to the flu, led Aris with 12 points, Bracey Wright and Dimitrios Tsaldaris added 11 each and Jeremiah Massey posted 10 points, 14 rebounds and 4 steals.
Unicaja controlled the opening tip and scored the game’s first basket through Rodriguez inside. Massey scored for Aris on the visitors’ first possession and a Wright jumper on the next gave them the lead. Unicaja came right back through N’Dong as the game took shape as an even contest. Despite a fast pace, the defenses were active and both teams went through a three-minute scoreless stretch before Jiri Welsch’s steal created a basket for Cabezas. Terrel Castle matched him at the other end, but a Cabezas three-pointer and then 2 free throws gave the hosts a 4-point lead. Cabezas then pulled up for a triple and after an Aris turnover, Welsch fed him for another two at the buzzer, giving him all the points in a 10-0 run as Unicaja took an 18-9 lead at the end of the first period.
Reyshawn Terry scored to Aris at the start of the second period, but Cabezas remained on fire with another score. Tsaldaris hit a pair of jumpers to make it 20-15 as Cabezas sat down for a breather. However Carlos Jimenez’s free throws and a Haislip slam restored a comfortable lead for the home team. Wright drilled a deep three to recharge his team and Mottola soon added another triple to make it 26-21. Michal Chilinsky answered with a three of his own and Haislip came up with a big block on Massey and raced down to court to give Unicaja its first double-digit advantage. Undeterred, Massey scored in the paint and Tsaldaris drilled a three to get back within 31-26 by halftime.
Unicaja went to Hailsip down low for the first points of the second half and second later Rodriguez fed N’Dong for a thunderous slam in transition as Unicaja took control. Berni did it again, stripping Castle and then feeding N’Dong to put Unicaja up 11 and cause Aris to use a timeout. Wright finally got Aris on the board with a triple, but Cabezas fed Haislip for a sleek alley-oop that made it 39-29. Aris didn’t give in, as Massey and Wright both scored from the line, but a Haislip slam on the offensive glass kept the momentum with the hosts. Berni soon made it 44-32 with a steal and layup, after which Mottola fired in a three and Tsaldaris made a layup. Mottola then netted 2 free throws to cap a 0-7 spurt and get Aris back. Hailsip answered with a hook shot and Welsch converted a steal into 2 from the line, but Massey continued the back-and-forth quarter with an offensive tip-in. Mottola and Kus traded hoops before German Gabriel beat the buzzer with a three to make it 55-43 heading into the fourth quarter.
Popovic and Kus drilled back-to-back threes at the start of the fourth period to give Unicaja its biggest lead yet and Welsch soon added a jumper to make it a 20-point game. Massey picked up a steal and a dunk after an Aris timeout, but a Haislip slam-plus-free throw erased any Aris hopes and a Popovic triple followed by a Hailsip triple put Unicaja up 71-46. Another timeout signaled garbage time, as teenage forward Paulo Prestes came on for Unicaja, while Savvas Iliadis saw his first action of the night for Aris. Simonas Serapinas drilled a deep three to try and keep the scoreline more respectable, but it was too late for anything else as the Malaga fans sang through the closing minutes of another big Unicaja home win.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007