UNICS rallies from 18 down to race past ALBA
UNICS Kazan rallied back from 18 points down and ended up running away for an 85-71 victory at home over ALBA Berlin for its third straight win. ALBA jumped ahead 21-39 in the second quarter before UNICS answered with 11 straight points. The hosts started the second half with a 12-0 surge to pull ahead and after some back and forth, UNICS put the game away with a 20-3 fourth quarter run for its fifth win in the last six games and a 6-5 record. Mario Hezonja led the way with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, while Lorenzo Brown poured in 21 points, Tonye Jekiri scored 11 points, Isaiah Canaan added 10 points and John Brown chipped in 9 points, 4 rebounds and 4 steals. ALBA dropped its third in a row and fifth in the last six games to fall to 3-8. Christ Koumadje paced ALBA with 12 points and 12 rebounds while Jaleen Smith scored 12 points and Luke Sikma tallied 11 points and 7 rebounds.
Sikma converted on the break to get the scoring going for ALBA and John Brown’s jumper was UNICS’ first points. Sikma added another basket as the German side moved ahead 2-7 only to see UNICS answer with the next six points - four from Lorenzo Brown to lead 8-7. ALBA big man Koumadje had a big impact early with 5 points and 5 rebounds and Sikma was up to six points as ALBA was leading 10-16. Canaan did answer with a three-pointer, but ALBA ended the quarter with a 0-10 run and a 13-26 advantage.
UNICS’ newly-acquired Janis Timma started the second quarter with a three-pointer. Smith punched back with back-to-back three-pointers, two free throws and an assist on Ben Lammers’ alley-oop as ALBA raced ahead by 17 points - 19-36. A Yovel Zoosman triple increased the gap to 21-39. UNICS fought its way back into the game with an 11-0 run over nearly 3 minutes thanks to three-pointers from Hezonja and Lorenzo Brown to get within 32-39. ALBA was not impressed and Louis Olinde’s triple had the guests back up 34-46. Hezonja came back with a monster dunk but UNICS was still down 40-48 at the break.
UNICS stormed out of the break with high pressure defense, forcing four turnovers while Hezonja drained two jumpers and Jekiri had two dunks in a 14-0 run to open a 52-48 lead. Oscar da Silva finally got ALBA on the board after almost 5 minutes of action and Smith evened the game again 52-52. The teams swapped five-point spurts and three free throws from Koumadje gave ALBA the lead 59-60 after 30 minutes.
Lorenzo Brown started the fourth quarter to give UNICS the lead back, the first of a string of five lead changes in the first 4 minutes, with Koumadje twice scoring for ALBA. Canaan pushed the hosts back ahead and started a 10-0 run which also included a Lorenzo Brown three-point play and a 75-66 advantage with under 4 minutes to play. Sikma ended the rut after nearly 3 minutes but UNICS mounted another 10-0 run with a Canaan three-pointer and two Jekiri transition scores for an 85-69 lead to decide the game.
Lorenzo Brown does it all for UNICS
Mario Hezonja may have led UNICS in scoring with 22 points but Lorenzo Brown put together an outstanding all-around game in the win. He scored 21 points on 9-of-15 shots and 1-of-1 free throws while also grabbing 5 rebounds. Brown also dished out a team-high 9 assists and swiped 2 steals. All that gave Brown a performance index rating of 31 - just one off his career high. But his 9 assists were a career best for Brown.
ALBA big man Koumadje gives UNICS problems
Despite the loss, Christ Koumadje had a night to remember for ALBA Berlin. Playing in just his seventh EuroLeague game, the Chad native tied ALBA in top scoring with 12 points, making 4-of-5 shots and 4-of-6 free throws. The 2.23 meter giant also grabbed 12 rebounds in collecting an index rating of 21. Koumadje set new career highs in points, rebounds and PIR, and drew praise from opposing coach Velimir Perasovic: “We had a big problem with their big guy who really caused us issues.”
Telling numbers - UNICS defense shines
UNICS forced ALBA into 19 turnovers and turned them into 14 points while giving up just 6 points off its 7 turnovers. UNICS also put together 10 fast break points to 0 for ALBA. In addition, the home side hit 63.2% on 2-pointers and held ALBA to just 26.1% on three-pointers. ALBA could not take advantage of its big difference in rebounding - 38 to 28 including 11 offensive rebounds. ALBA did collect 10 second chance points - to five for UNICS - but it wasn’t nearly enough for the win.
Friday, November 19, 2021