Unicaja held off Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv for a 93-70 victory on Thursday night at the Martin Carpena Arena in Malaga, Spain. Carlos Cabezas led the way with 21 points and German Gabriel added 16 off the bench as Unicaja won its 10th consecutive Euroleague home game. The last team to beat Unicaja in Malaga was Maccabi last January. The win also sees Unicaja improve to 3-1 and join Aris TT Bank in second place in Group B. Maccabi dropped to 2-2 and is tied for fourth in the group with Efes Pilsen. Maccabi jumped out to an early 2-9 lead, but Unicaja used 9 straight points to get right back. The hosts remained in control from that point, leading 45-36 at halftime as Maccabi never mounted a serious run. However the game was relatively close heading into the fourth quarter, when Maccabi was only down 7. But Unicaja remained red-hot in the fourth quarter and outscored Maccabi by 15 down the stretch to coast to victory. The hosts made 10 three-pointers to Maccabi's 2 and committed just 6 turnovers, while Maccabi had 15. Marcus Haislip dominated early and finished with 19 points, Boniface N'Dong had 14 points and 8 rebounds, Jiri Welsch added 11 points and Berni Rodriguez 10. Marcus Fizer led Maccabi with 15 points and Will Bynum added 14.
Maccabi won the opening tip and went to work inside through Fizer. Vonteego Cummings made it 0-4 before Cabezas got Unicaja on the board. David Bluthenthal converted a three-point play and a Fizer steal led to a Yotam Halperin fast break layup as Maccabi surged to 2-9. However Unicaja quickly regained its focus. Haislip started to get his team going, Cabezas added a triple and then Haislip's bank shot tied the game at 9-9. After a scoreless minute, Haislip dunked for Unicaja's first lead, however Bluthenthal bettered him with a triple. Cabezas continued to push the hosts forward and Carlos Jimenez fed Haislip for another slam as Unicaja went up 3. Esteban Batista's first points were matched by Haislip's 10th and then N'Dong made it 19-14. Haislip scored in Terence Morris's face, but Bynum penetrated for a basket to make it 21-16 at the end of the first period.
Batista fought his way inside for a basket, but Gabriel and Welsch hit from outside and then German went inside with a hook to increase the hosts' lead to 10. Bynum tried to fuel Maccabi and got the visitors within 6, however Gabriel took over, drilling a pair of triples. Haislip came of the bench with another three to complete a 10-2 run for a 38-24 Unicaja lead. Fizer fought back with a pair of baskets inside and after a Gabriel layup, Derrick Sharp hit from close range and Cummings went coast-to-coast for a layup-plus foul to cut the deficit to 6. Unicaja used a timeout to prepare for the last play of the half and it paid off as Cabezas penetrated for a score to make it 45-36 at halftime.
Alex Garcia and then Fizer started chipping into the Unicaja lead as the second half got underway, but a Daniel Santiago and Cabezas led a 10-0 run that gave put Unicaja up 58-42. An Omri Casspi basket off an offensive rebound and a Cummings penetration helped Maccabi remain in the picture. Free throws by Rodriguez and N'Dong kept Unicaja comfortably ahead. Still Maccabi persisted and reeled off 7 straight points from Batista, Morris and Bynum, plus a defensive stand at the end of the period helped the Israeli champs cut the gap to 65-57 heading into the fourth quarter.
Gabriel used a mismatch on Cummings to score for Unicaja early in the fourth quarter, but Halperin matched for Maccabi. Rodriguez and Welsch drilled big threes to restore a double-digit lead and after Casspi was called for a questionable foul, Maccabi head coach Oded Kattash earned a technical foul, which after a Rodriguez free throw and a Gabriel jumper resulted in a 76-61 scoreline. Casspi continue to fight and came right back with a triple, but his confidence seemed to grow too quickly and he traveled on Maccabi's next attack. Haislip fed N'Dong for a two-handed slam as the visitors' chances started to slip away. Cabezas added another nail in the Maccabi coffin with a three and soon added another to increase the lead to 19. Haislip piled it on from the line and N'Dong hit a bank shot as the lead peaked at 91-68 with a minute remaining, allowing the home fans to celebrate another home win.
Thursday, November 15, 2007