Unicaja gets critical road win
Unicaja Malaga took a major step towards reaching the playoffs from Top 16 Group H by downing MoraBanc Andorra 88-92 on the road on Tuesday. Unicaja improved to 2-1 in the group standings while Andorra dropped to 0-3. Josh Adams led the winners with 22 points. Jaime Fernandez added 13, Dario Brizuela and Carlos Suarez 12 each, and Alberto Diaz 10 for Unicaja. Clevin Hannah led Andorra with 21 points. Frantz Massenat added 15, David Jelinek 13 and Tyson Perez 11 for the hosts. Massenat and Jeremy Senglin shined early to give Andorra a double-digit lead, 22-11, after 10 minutes. Fernandez and an outstanding Adams brought Unicaja within 40-37 at halftime. Adams kept pacing Unicaja and allowed his team to tie the game, 56-56, late in the third quarter. Hannah and Perez restored a 70-66 Andorra lead after 30 minutes. Unicaja improved its defense while Diaz and Brizuela combined for their team's first 18 points in the fourth quarter, putting the guests ahead for good, 81-84, with 2 minutes left. Free throw accuracy allowed Unicaja to stay ahead until the final buzzer.
David Walker and Massenat each struck from beyond the arc to give Andorra an early 6-0 lead. Fernandez stepped up with a layup-plus-foul and Axel Toupane added a driving basket as Unicaja pulled within 10-5. Hannah matched Toupane's alley-oop layup with a fastbreak basket and Nacho Llovet scored down low for a 14-7 Andorra lead. Adam Waczynski and Suarez scored for Unicaja but Jelinek and Senglin each buried a three-pointer to make it 22-11 after 10 minutes. Volodymyr Gerun and Llovet exchanged layups early in the second quarter, then Waczynski scored in penetration for a 24-15 score. Fernandez sank a triple but Perez and Dejan Todorovic lifted Andorra up by 29-18 Andorra. Unicaja found its offense again as Fernandez hit a fastbreak layup, Deon Thompson scored inside and Adams reeled off 8 points to make it 31-30. Massenat rescued Andorra with 5 points, getting help from Jelinek and Dejan Musli to keep their team ahead 40-37 at halftime. Adams finished a three-point play and added a jumper for a 42-42 tie right after the break. Andorra found Musli twice down low in a 7-0 run that Hannah capped with a three-point play. Ruben Guerrero inside and red-hot Adams from distance kept Unicaja within 53-51. Massenat and Thompson joined the three-point shootout before Adams dunked to tie again, 56-56. Andorra found its go-to guy in Hannah, who fed Jelinek for a fastbreak dunk and added 6 quick points before Perez struck from deep for a 67-60 lead. Waczynski's triple and Fernandez's layup kept Unicaja within 70-66 after 30 minutes. Andorra struggled against the guests' 3-2 zone defense early in the fourth quarter, allowing the first points by Diaz and Brizuela to give Unicaja its first lead, 72-74. Diaz and Brizuela kept pacing Unicaja but Perez dunked in traffic and Jelinek hit consecutive three-pointers as Andorra regained the lead at 81-79. Brizuela's free throws preceded a corner triple by Diaz for a 81-84 Unicaja lead with 2 minutes to go. Gerun, Diaz and Adams sealed the outcome from the foul line, 83-88, with 16.2 seconds left.
Adams kept Unicaja's options alive in the first three quarters, keeping the guests close enough to make the difference in the fourth. He finished with 22 points by making 5 of 9 two-pointers, 2 of 6 threes and 6 of 7 free throws. He added 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 4 fouls drawn for a PIR of 22.
Jelinek hit consecutive three-point shots to put Andorra ahead for the last time at 81-79. Brizuela hit free throws and Diaz a corner triple the flipped the scoreboard for Unicaja at 81-84. The visitors proceeded to make 8 of 10 foul shots in the final 2 minutes to walk away with a win.
The game went down to details, and those were missed free throws and turnovers. Unicaja made 23 of 26 free throws (88.5%) and Andorra only hit 14 of 22 (63.6%). Unicaja limited turnovers to just 10 and Andorra picked up as many as 15.
Did you notice?
Diaz and Brizuela had gone scoreless for 30 minutes, but combined for 22 of their team's 26 fourth-quarter points, suppling Unicaja's first lead and the eventual victory.
These teams will face each other again in Round 3 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena in Malaga next Wednesday.
Tuesday, January 21, 2020