Real Madrid showed why it is one of the top candidates to reach high in the Euroleague Basketball season by downing Unicaja 88-77 at home in Group A in the all-Spanish showdown on Thursday night. Real Madrid broke the game in the third quarter and never looked back. Mickael Gelabale led the winners with 20 points, Axel Hervelle had 17, Igor Rakocevic and Felipe Reyes each added 15 and Louis Bullock 11 for Real Madrid. Garbajosa was the main factor for Unicaja with 21 points, Marcus Brown added 17, Daniel Santiago had 12 and Carlos Cabezas 11 for the guests. Garbajosa led Unicaja to a strong start, but Rakocevic and Gelabale helped Real Madrid to get a 44-41 at halftime. Garbajosa gave Unicaja its last leas dt 54-56, but Real Madrid used a 12-0 run in which Gelabale had 5 points to lead 73-59 after 30 minutes, enough to control the game until the final buzzer.
Garbajosa started the game on fire with a jump hook in the paint and a three-pointer, but Reyes answered with back-to-back baskets for Real Madrid. Garbajosa took over with another triple, to which Madrid coach Bozidar Maljkovic reacted by calling Axel Hervelle on court. Gelabale provided a highlight with a two-handed breakaway dunk while Bullock nailed a three-pointer to give Madrid its first lead, 9-8. They went back and forth from there, Herrmann answerying from downtown for Unicaja, Bullock driving to tie, Brown hitting a fallaway jumper. Gelabale and Rakocevic then nailed a three-pointer each to give Madrid a 17-15 lead. Unicaja looked to Santiago inside now, and he put dwn 6 quick points for a 19-19 tie. Unicaja switched to zone defense, but Rakocevic buried yet another three and Hervelle made his second tip-in. Even when Brown shined with an alley-oop layup, Madrid led 24-23 after an extraordinary first quarter.
Rakocevic kept rolling in the second with a short jumper that Santiago matched with a put-back dunk. Then, Cabezas tied for the visitors with a corner triple. While Madrid went to zone defense, Tomas lifted the offense with a basket-plus-foul followed by a three-point shot that sent Madrid ahead 34-28. Stephane Risacher and Reyes exchanged short jumpers, then Garbajosa broke the Madrid zone with another triple that got Unicaja within 36-33. A run-and-gun spurt saw Rakocevic and Brown exchanged triples while Hervelle made an acrobatic layup, forcing a Unicaja timeout at 41-36. The guests tightened their defense now, and soon were within 45-42 on free throws by Brown and a tough jumper by Herrmann. Although Hamilton got a basket back for Madrid, Cabezas beat the buzzer to cut the difference to 47-44 at halftime.
Real Madrid struggled to score early in the third quarter, while Garbajosa followed Santiago's layup with a triple for a 47-49 Unicaja edge. Hervelle answered from downtown, but Madrid saw Rakocevic go to the bench with his fourth foul. Free throws by Garbajosa and Brown put Unicaja briefly in charge at 50-52. Bullock slashed for a tough layup and added another close basket for a 54-52 Real Madrid edge. Garbajosa kept Unicaja alive with a follow-up layup and free throws, as Real Madrid had entered the foul bonus. Reyes stepped up with a reverse layup while Gelabale and Hervelle nailed consecutive threes to give the hosts a 62-57 lead. Unicaja went scoreless for 4 minutes, while Rakocevic capped a 12-0 run with free throws which made it an 11-point game, 68-57. Florent Pietrus tried to change things with free throws, but Gelabale and Hamilton gave Real Madrid a 72-59 margin after 30 minutes.
Gelabale had a big block to start the fourth quarter and nailed his third triple immediately after that to give Real Madrid a 14-point lead, 75-61, early in the fourth quarter. Unicaja carried on struggling in offense, while Rakocevic threw a long pass to Gelabale for a catch-and-shoot layup. Cabezas seemed to be the last man standing for Unicaja until Brown made free throws to give the guests some hope, 77-66, with 7 minutes to go. It didn't last long, as Hervelle buried another threeand even when Unicaja called timeout, a five-meter jumper by Felipe sealed the outcome, 82-66, midway through the final period. Unicaja tried to reduce its deficit to avoid troubles in eventual tie-break situations. Even with that, Real Madrid controlled the boards and used long possessions to avoid troubles, but lost Hamilton with a discolated shoulder which may sideline him for a while, putting a bitter end to an otherwise fantastic start to its Euroleague Basketball season.
Thursday, November 3, 2005