Unicaja is the first team to march into the semifinals of the Ciutat de L'Hospitalet tournament following a 69-61 victory over La Caja de Canarias on Tuesday afternoon in L'Hospitalet, Spain. Unicaja notched its second win after a dramatic 60-58 overtime upset over reigning champ Lietuvos Rytas yesterday. Unicaja will take the top spot in Group C and will face the Group B winner in the second semifinal game on Wednesday. The winner of the L'Hospitalet tournament will join Zalgiris Kaunas and two additional teams coming from future qualifying competitions next month in the Nike International Junior Tournament, to take place next May in Paris as part of the 2010 Euroleague Final Four weekend. A 9-0 run led by Miki Servera and point guard Daniel Perez gave Unicaja a 10-point lead midway through the last quarter. Canarias staged a brave comeback to come within just one bucket inside the last minute, but Severa stepped up with key plays to settle things for his team. Servera was once again the top scorer of his team with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. He was followed by Tautvydas Sabonis, son of legend Arvydas Sabonis, who had 11 points, and Nicolas Ciano with 10 points. Christian Diaz led losing side with 17 points while Fabio Santana added 14. The winners combined 8 three-pointers and 40% accuracy from the arc, enough to hide 27 turnovers in the entire game.
La Caja de Canarias spent its first minutes in the competition by taking a 2-7 lead, but saw Unicaja answer quickly with a 15-2 run stopped only by the first-quarter siren. Canarias's drought continued for 3 minutes into the second quarter, as the gap extended to 22-9. Diaz managed a single point from the free throw line, but not until 2 minutes later did his team's first field goal in 12 minutes go through the net. Malick Fall and Sabonis scored their first points but Diaz and Santana made a late first-half effort to give Unicaja a 30-25 lead at the break. A three-pointer by Ciano in the 23rd minute were the last points by Unciaja for the next 4 minutes, as Canarias collected 9 unanswered points to take the lead back. Sabonis answered with a three-pointer, however, and Unicaja was on top once again, entering the closing quarter with a 44-40 margin. Servera, who scored 10 points in the closing quarter, started his display with a triple, followed by Fall's dominance on the boards and Perez added a three-pointer to make it 54-44. Diaz took over things for Canarias, scoring 7 points in a row and cutting the difference to just a 2 points with under 2 minutes left. From then til the finish, however Servera scored 7 points jand made a key steal which sealed Unicaja's passage to the semis.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010