Despite arriving at noon on gameday due to weather-related travel problems, Unicaja blasted off in the fourth quarter to defeat Partizan 67-86 on the road in Belgrade on Wednesday to take another step higher in the Group C race. A battery of three-pointers - 11 of 25 on the night - helped Unicaja pull away in the final 10 minutes with an 8-27 scoring run for the winners. With the victory, its first on the road this season, Unicaja improves to 4-2 and at least a share of third place in Group C, Partizan drops to 1-5 and a three-way tie for sixth place with Ulker and Pau-Orthez. Jorge Garbajosa led the winners with 19 points, making 5 of 10 triples. Daniel Santiago added 16 for Unicaja and Walter Herrmann helped with 13. For Partizan, Dejan Milojevic led the way with 23 points, and Gerald Brown was the only other player in double digits with 12. Garbajosa and Herrmann not only paced the visitors offensively in the last quarter, but helped Unicaja's defense shut down Milojevic, who scored 22 in the first 30 minutes.
Partizan jumped to a 7-2 start with 5 points by Milojevic, including a triple. Unicaja struggled early to score and Partizan took advantage by rocketing ahead 14-5 with 9 points already by Milojevic and a triple by Nikola Loncar. Garbajosa found Santiago for a monster dunk but the hosts kept on playing at their pace, with good offensive rebounding and new options other than Milojevic. Santiago kept Unicaja alive from the free throw line and Garbajosa added a bomb from downtown that cut the difference to 20-16. On the last play of the first quarter, however, Kosta Perovic tipped in a triple shot by Gerald Brown but blocked by Marcus Brown to leave Partizan with a 22-16 advantage after 10 minutes..
Unicaja opened the second quarter with a 0-4 run thanks to Florent Pietrus and Walter Herrmann, but trips to the free throw line by the hosts maintained the margin. When Milojevic hit his fourth foul shot of the quarter, Partizan still led 26-20. Back from injury, Pepe Sanchez blasted a triple for Unicaja and Berni Rodriguez added a jumper to make it a two-point game, 27-25. Partizan didn't find the net now and Stephane Risacher rised from the corner to hit a new three-pointer, good for Unicaja's first lead, 27-28. Garbajosa added yet another triple for Unicaja but Gerald Brown scored quick for Partizan to tie the game, 31-31. Unicaja defended well but Partizan found Kosta Perovic underneath for a dunk. Then, however, the guests replied with 4 fast points including a classy turnaround bank shot by Santiago before Garbajosa finished off the quarter with another bomb from downtown for a 34-42 Unicaja halftime lead.
The teams traded baskets starting the second half, with Santiago hitting a pair to offset those by Milojevic and Perovic. But Garbajosa was on fire, and with his fourth shot from the arc gave Unicaja its first double-digit lead, 39-49. Partizan got good shots but missed, and Unicaja used that to keep on maintaining the margin. But it only lasted until Milojevic found the three-point play to which Boris Bakic added a layup for 46-50. With free throws on both sides, the game kept going until Nikola Pekovic slammed, but a Carlos Cabezas triple kept Unicaja up 50-57. Partizan's defense improved and forced Unicaja into mistakes as Predrag Suput's triple made it 55-58 and fired up the Pionir Arena crowd. Milojevic reached 22 points with 2 more free throws, and Pekovic dunked to complete the comeback with Partizan now ahead 59-58. A free throw by Pietrus left the scoreboard dead even, 59-59, entering the decisive period.
Pietrus opened the final quarter with a triple for Unicaja. After Suput and Santiago traded baskets, Unicaja's defense held tight until Sanchez stole and drove for an easy layup to make it 61-66. The Unicaja scoring run went up to 0-6 with back-to-back baskets by Pietrus as Partizan kept losing balls in offense. The guests took advantage of that when Garbajosa nailed his fifth triple and Marcus Brown's fastbreak layup finished a 3-16 run with Unicaja now up by double digits, 62-75. When Milojevic missed 2 straight free throws, Partizan started flagging, while Unicaja played at ease with Herrmann dropping his team's 10th triple of the night. The hosts never surrendered, but the outcome was clear as Rodriguez drove to the basket and made it 66-81 with less than 2 minutes to go. The victory was going back to Malaga with Unicaja.
Wednesday, December 7, 2005