Unicaja outlasted Spirou Basket 84-73
Unicaja stormed back from an early 17-point deficit to defeat Spirou Charleroi 84-73 in the teams’ Turkish Airlines Euroleague Group B opener on Thursday at Martin Carpena Arena in Malaga, Spain. Guillem Rubio shined with a career-high 22 points to lead the hosts, who looked in trouble from the outset when they fell behind 0-13 and 3-20. Unicaja did not take its first lead until midway through the third quarter when Joel Freeland took charge. Spirou hung tough until the end and constantly looked for ways to get back throughout the fourth quarter, but its shots stopped falling and Unicaja held on for the opening night win. Freeland finished with 18 points and 8 rebounds and Uros Tripkovic added 14 for the winners, who travel next week to meet Real Madrid. Brian Greene scored 20 for the Belgian champs, while former Unicaja guard Joseph Gomis added 15 and Brent Wright posted 11 points and 10 rebounds. Spirou will play its first Euroleague home game in nearly a decade next week when it hosts Virtus Roma.
Tip-off was delayed for several minutes, but when the problem was fixed, the visitors were ready. Gomis attack the basket for the game’s first basket, Wright went inside for another score and Greene followed from downtown. Justin Hamilton and Gomis made it 0-11 before Unicaja called for timeout. Greene added another basket before Berni Rodriguez made a three-pointer for Unicaja’s first points after nearly four minutes of game action. Demond Mallet became the fifth Spirou starter to score when he rained a triple to make it 3-18. Unicaja made its first substitutions hoping to shake thing up, but it was a strip and layup from former Unicaja man Gomis that put the visitors up 17. Tripkovic scored a three for the home team and then Rafa Freire added a jumper as Unicaja worked its way back. Robert Archibald went to work inside and closed the gap to 11-20. Tripkovic was fouled shooting a three and knocked down the resulting 3 free throws to cap an 11-0 charge before Dwayne Broyles and Chris Hill helped Charleroi regain its momentum from the line. Terrell McIntyre penetrated and scored his first basket to keep Unicaja within 16-24 after 10 minutes.
Wright put the visitors back up by 10 at the start of the second quarter, but Unicaja responded with a Georgios Printezis layup. Archibald scored inside to narrow the gap to 6. The pace of the game picked up and that worked in Unicaja’s favor. Greene connected from downtown to make it 20-29, but Tripkovic sandwiched a pair of triples around a Broyles basket to get his team within 5. McIntyre hit a baseline jumper and to get his team even closer, but Greene came right back with a three. Freeland got his first points, Rubio scored too and then Freeland used a nice move in the paint to complete the comeback and tie the game at 34-34. Spirou regrouped with a timeout and it worked as Gomis struck from behind the arc and Hamilton stole the ball and fed Hill for an open layup. Wright went around Freeland for a basket-plus-foul that made it 36-42. Carlos Cobos fed Freeland for a bucket in the paint to get the hosts within 2, but Wright answered again. Freire attacked the basket and scored to get Unicaja to 42-44 at halftime.
Spirou hung on to the lead as Gomis started the second half with a basket. Berni hit back from downtown to get Unicaja within 1. Andre Riddick came through on the offensive glass for his first Euroleague points. Riddick continue to make his presence felt on both ends of the floor, but he alone could not carry Charleroi. After Riddick returned to the bench, Rubio hit a triple to give Unicaja its first lead of the game, 50-48. Rubio increased the lead to 53-50, but the visitors continued to battle and a Chris Hill baseline layup kept the visitors as close as 57-56 with to minutes to play.
Rubio banked in a three and then McIntyre used the backboard on another as Unicaja’s lead grew to 7. Greene hit a jumper off the glass at the other end, but Archibald kept Unicaja ahead. Mallet answered with a clutch triple, however the momentum was all Unicaja’s. Freeland went to the line for 2 points, grabbed a defensive rebound and then took a dish from McIntyre as the Unicaja lead swelled to 8. Then Tripkovic scored on the break to put the hosts up 71-61 midway through the fourth quarter. Mallet didn’t let the visitors quit as he hit a three from the corner and then Gomis scored in transition. Printezis stepped up with a three and Hill missed twice from the line for Charleroi, which was beginning to run out of time. Rubio pushed the hosts back up by 10 only to see Greene fire in a three. Charleroi tried to plot out the final two minutes in a timeout, but the team missed its next 5 shots before Rubio essentially sealed the win with 2 from the line with 63 seconds remaining.
Thursday, October 21, 2010