Unicaja scorches short-handed Oldenburg
Unicaja Malaga recorded the second-best scoring nigh in the club's EuroCup history in a 108-68 rout of visiting EWE Baskets Oldenburg on Tuesday night at Martin Carpena Arena. The victory lifted Unicaja to 7-2 in Group D and assured it a top-two finish in the regular season. Oldenburg, which struggled with star players Rasid Mahalbasic and Tyler Larson out with injuries, saw its five-game winning streak snapped and fell to 5-4. Josh Adams paced the Unicaja attack with 16 points, Axel Toupane tallied 15 points and 7 assists, Volodymyr Gerun netted 12 points on perfect shooting in 15 minutes, Carlos Suarez amassed 11 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists and Dario Brizuela scored 10 in his EuroCup debut. All 12 Unicaja players scored and 11 of them grabbed a rebound. Gerry Blakes paced Oldenburg with 23 points and Justin Sears added 12.
Unicaja looked to take charge early and scored the game’s first 6 points before Rickey Paulding netted a foul-line jumper for the visitors. However, the turnovers were mounting for the visitors, while Toupane and Adams helped Unicaja surge to a double-digit lead, 17-6, with 3 minutes remaining in the opening quarter. Blakes scored twice for Oldenburg and kept his team in the picture at 23-14 after 10 minutes. The start of the second quarter was a carbon copy of the first with Unicaja padding its lead before Blakes revived Oldenburg. Gerun took control in the paint to boost the Unicaja lead to 39-24. Brizuela continued his impressive debut with a long jumper and Gerun's put-back made it 46-30. Sears scored twice for the visitors and Blakes nailed a three-pointer to make it 48-37 at the break. Unicaja scored 10 in a row to begin the second half before Blakes converted a three-point play for Oldenburg. Toupane and Adams kept sniping as the lead grew to 75-47 midway through the third quarter. Deon Thompson made it a 30-point game with a fastbreak layup. Adam Waczynski beat the third-quarter buzzer with a three that made it 89-55 and gave his team 41 points for the quarter. Ruben Guerrero put Unicaja into three digits at 101-63 with 4 minutes remaining and the hosts cruised the rest of the way.
Unicaja's 108-point outburst was the second-most points by the club ever in the EuroCup and tied for the most points by any team this season. Unicaja's best scoring night was 111 last season against Mornar Bar. Ironically, the team it tied for the most points this season was Oldenburg, which put up 108 in Round 8 against Dolomiti Energia Trento. Unicaja’s performance index rating of 145 was also the second-most in club history and its 44 rebounds and 25 assists were both the third-most for the club.
Dario's dazzling debut
New Unicaja signing Dario Brizuela impressed in his EuroCup debut with 10 points, 3 assists and 1 steal in less than 20 minutes on the floor. He made 3 of 5 two-pointers and 1 of 4 shots from behind the arc. Brizuela collected on his only free throw, too, and showed EuroCup fans that this already-deep Unicaja squad just got deeper.
The good news for Oldenburg was the outstanding performance of Gerry Blakes, who despite having the Unicaja defense paying extra attention to him penetrated almost at will en route to a season-high 23 points. He made 7 of 9 two-point shots and 6 of 7 free throws. Blakes's struggles were with three-point shooting (1 for 6) and his 4 turnovers. Nonetheless, Blakes proved after aa 21-point outing in Round 8 that he is a force his team can count on.
Unicaja goes on the road for its regular-season finale at Dolomiti Energia Trento on Tuesday, December 17. The following evening, Oldenburg will host Buducnost VOLI Podgorica.
Tuesday, December 10, 2019