A rain of three-pointers from Louis Bullock was good enough to push Unicaja of Spain into the Group B win column with a 72-78 road win at Buducnost of Podgorica on Wednesday. Bullock finished the game hitting all 5 triples he launched, including the one that stopped Buduncost when it came within a point of the lead near the end. Bullock finished as the top scorer on the floor with 26 points. Chuck Kornegay added 15 for the winners. Buducnost was led by Ivan Koljevic with 14 points, Aleksandar Smiljanic with 13 and Dejan Milojevic with 12, though the Unicaja defense didn't let any of the home team players to have his way. This is the first win for Unicaja, which now holds a balanced record of 1-1 in Group A, while Buducnost drops to 0-2.
The guests started rolling in the very first quarter with a 0-10 run culminated by a free throw from Milan Gurovic. Buducnost reacted in a shy manner, but 2 free throws by Smiljanic put the hosts at 7-17. Chuck Kornegay was the leader of the guests on the offensive end, and the defense of Unicaja wouldn't let the hosts breathe. But Ivan Koljevic first, and Aleksandar Pavlovic later, would lead the real reaction of Buducnost. They both started feeling good from three-point range. Pavlovic, makinig his Euroleague debut after a preseason injury, hit his shot from downtown in the last second of the quarter to cut the Unicaja lead to 20-25 after the first 10 minutes.
The second period started with a three by Koljevic for a 23-25 scoreboard that proved the home team was not about to take a loss without a fight. Both teams had trouble at the free throw line, but Buducnost paced the game through scoring streaks. On the visiting side, Louis Bullock lifted Unicaja from the 6.25 line, scoring 3 big triples in the span of five possessions. Buducnost's paint game improved despite the defense of the Spaniards, but Bullock did what he wanted on the offensive end. Both teams kept turnovers as low as 3 for each, but Unicaja showed better percentages in two-point shots with 11 of 16, while Buducnost shot 7 of 14. It all added up to a 41-45 advantage at the half for visiting Unicaja.
The third quarter was poor in scoring, as neither team had very clear ideas on the offensive end. On defense though, Buducnost was slightly better than the rival, and Zarko Cabarkapa was the absolute master, blocking as many as three shots in the period. Unicaja clearly outrebounded the hosts by 9-24, but that superiority wasn't reflected in the 47-48 score. It was Bullock again who, with a four-point play after a three and a free throw, made Unicaja's lead a little more comfortable at 47-52. A steal culminated with a fastbreak by Koljevic would soon tie the game again, at 55-55, but a last second shot by Bullock - Who else? - put Unicaja ahead again, 55-58 after 30 minutes.
Unicaja played more comfortably in the last period, which was less balanced than expected, as after 4 minutes the visitors' lead had swelled to double digits, 61-71. Walsh Jordan wanted to take responsibility for Buducnost, and succeeded with quick attacks at the basket. Before anyone knew it, a jumper by Smiljanic had pulled the hosts to within a single point, 68-69. That's when Bullock re-appeared for his fifth triple of 5 attempts, the very fact of which seemed to deflate Buducnost. Still, Unicaja needed 4 straight free throws to seal the win in the very last minute and avoid the bottom of the table in Group B.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002