Unicaja held off Olympiacos 76-74
The Turkish Airlines Euroleague Game of the Week played on Thursday in Malaga, Spain seemed like it would end nice and easy for hosting Unicaja, but in the end they had to suffer until the last breath to defeat Olympiacos by a close 76-74. Unicaja had been ahead for most of the game and even dominated by 17 points, 67-50, with eight minutes to go. However, a huge 2-21 run by the Reds shut the hosts down and put them in control, 69-71 with three minutes to go. Unicaja managed to react just in time and a missed long three by Milos Teodosic in the last play allowed for the win to stay in Spain. The win allows Unicaja to improve to 5-3 to tie for first place of Group B with Olympiacos and Real Madrid. Saul Blanco led the winners with his 21 points, while Joel Freeland helped with his 12 points and 7 boards. For the Reds, Milos Teodosic had 20 points, Vassilis Spanoulis added 19 and Zoran Erceg had 15.
A fast start for both teams quickly put up a 6-4 Unicaja edge on the scoreboard when Joel Freeland slammed for a personal 4-0 run. Saul Blanco soon joined
tha party with a three for 9-4 and good Unicaja defense deprived Olympiacos from points as the hosts dominated the tempo. Rodney Blakney never was in a hurry
to run the Unicaja offense as Freeland increased the lead sinking free throws for 11-4. Marko Keselj broke the spell for the Reds with his basket but Blanco
replied fast with a three to make it 14-6. It had to be four straight points by Ioannis Bouroussis in the lane for Olympiacos that put the guests back in the
game at 14-10. A quick jumper by Vassilis Spanoulis and a basket by Zoran Erceg sealed a 0-9 run for the Reds to earn them another lead, 14-15. Uros
Tripkovic stopped the bleeding for Unicaja with a three as Milos Teodosic tied it fast for a 17-17 after 10 minutes.
The uptempo business went on in the second quarter. Teodosic hit a three to put Olympiacos ahead again with 19-20, bu Unicaja reacted aggressive with a 9-2
run capped by Berni Rodriguez's layup that had the crowd going. The Reds were trying to look for baskets near the rim to secure more points while Carlos
Jimenez did the opposite blasting a three from the corner to make it 31-26. Rasho Nesterovic fought for a ball under the glass to score for the guests and
Teodosic soon joined him to make it a one-point game again. But it was a come and go game and when Uros Tripkovic his Unicaja's sixth three at that point and
Berni hit an easy layup for the 5-0 burst, the hosts were in command again, 36-30. It didn't get much better than this. With both offenses running at full
throttle looking always for the extra pass to find the perfect spot, both teams managed to keep adding points fast: Spanoulis hit the bucket only to find a
quick reply by Blanco that made it 42-36. Spanoulis had some more time to hit a free throw that sent both teams to the lockerroom with a 42-37 Unicaja lead.
Spanoulis also opened the second half, this time with a three that made it 42-40 but Archibald replied fast for Unicaja with a slam showing the difficulties
of the Reds to defend the pick and roll of the hosts. The run of Unicaja went up to 6-0 when Blanco hit a jumper from the top of the key that made it 50-41.
Olympiacos started collecting turnovers and when Billy Baptist drove in traffic for the 52-51 lead, the guests had to stop things with a timeout. The scoring
run of Unicaja went into double digits as the swarming defense of the hosts could only be overcome by sneaky Spanoulis who drove to make it 54-43. Unicaja
minded its own business however, trying to run in offense and keep its defensive pressure at high level. Panchi Barrera and Bouroussis traded points but at
this point the Reds could only produce points from the free throw line. The Unicaja defense was practically perfect in disturbing all the Olympiacos
offensive plans while Berni fed Tripkovic for a layup that made it 62-48. Again, Erceg could only score from the line for the guests with two points that
left it at 62-50 after 30 minutos.
Archibald, despite his fourth fouls, was hanging on and even scored the first basket for Unicaja in the last period as Bouroussis fouled out with more than 8 minutes to go in the game. Unicaja kept punishing the rim of the guests with a new three by Blanco for the 17-point lead, 67-50. After an unsportsmanlike foul called on Blakney, Olympiacos managed to hit four points in a row using the situation, and that seemed to be a turning point for them with a three by Spanoulis to make it 69-61 and a good defense to force the shot clock violation of Unicaja. The run went up to 2-13 with Spanoulis driving again and Nesterovic was also invited to make it a 4-point game, 69-65. Unicaja was completely dazed both in offense and defense and Spanoulis used it again to dirve and feed Keselj for the three and the 2-18 run that made it 69-68. But the run didn't stop there as Erceg silenced the Martin Carpena arena with a three that completed the comeback of the Reds, who jumped ahead, 69-71. Berni broke the Unicaja spell with two free throws and Blanco joined him to put the hosts back ahead at 73-71. When Freeland grabbed a huge offensive rebound and Unicaja, through Archibald, used the second chance to score for 75-71 for its own 6-0 run with less than one minute to go. In the second attempt, Teodosic blasted a three for 75-74 and Blakney could only hit one free throw with 22 seconds left to make it 76-74. In the last play, Spanoulis held onto the ball and Teodosic tried to hit a far away three but the ball didn't go in and the Unicaja fans could, at last, celebrate the win against the Reds.
Thursday, December 9, 2010