2008 Top 16 profile: Unicaja

Jan 29, 2008 by Euroleague.net Print

Regular Season:
3rd, Group B, 10-4

Team Rankings
3rd Ranking
7th points
5th 2-point %
5th 3-point %
4th FT %
4th assists
3rd Fouls Received

Sergio Scariolo  - Unicaja
Sergio Scariolo
A Final Four team from last season is back to the Top 16 with the only ambition to return to the big event yet again this year and confirm its power. Unicaja underwent some major roster changes but became a deeper, more consistent team in the process. The team stayed undefeated in Malaga throughout the regular season and grabbed a couple of early road wins against Milano and Le Mans to cruise to the Top 16 as the best third-ranked team in the competition at Group B. Coach Sergio Scariolo knew it was a priority to improve its roster and added Marcus Haislip and German Gabriel while keeping Daniel Santiago and Boniface Ndong, who arrives in Malaga when the Euroleague season was over last season. With Haislip (14.2 ppg., 4.1 rpg.) and Ndong (9.4 ppg., 5.6 rpg.) on court, Unicaja as been as athletic as anyone around, as well as being able to switch Carlos Jimenez (4.4 ppg., 3.8 rpg.) back to small forward, where he can offer his all-around game and defensive skills. Carlos Cabezas (11.2 ppg.,
Berni Rodriguez - Unicaja
Berni Rodriguez
47.5% 3FG, 87.5% FT) is having a career season so far and stepping up to an underachieving season from Bojan Popovic (3.3 ppg.) so far. It all could change soon, however, as Popovic already proved its value with Dynamo Moscow in last year's Euroleague. Occasionally, coach Scariolo has tried Davor Kus (8 ppg., 96.4% FT) at point guard, even when he is set to share minutes at both wings with team captain Berni Rodriguez (8 ppg.) and a very improved Jiri Welsch (8.8 ppg., 3. rpg.), who imrpoved his defense, determination and confidence in his second season with Unicaja. Offensively, coach Scariolo has more options than ever, as he can open the floor with Gabriel (8.5 ppg., 53.5% 3FG) at power forward, force double-team situations on Santiago (9.4 ppg., 71.4% 2FG, 4.7 rpg.) or just run the floor with Ndong and Haislip. Jimenez and Rodriguez can shut down any opponeny anytime, anywhere, but the main difference might be experience. Unicaja is not a perennial Final Four contender, but a team has was already there and knows what it takes to reach the ultimate goal. Coach Scariolo is always full of tactic surprises and with a deep, dangerous roster, Unicaja may well have no limits yet again this season.
Juan Manuel Rodriguez Unicaja Sports Director: "I think that we have not been lucky, because we are in a tough group with CSKA Moscow, Barcelona and Lottomatica Roma. CSKA is the clear favorite. We will try with all our effort to be in second and we will have fight with the other three teams. I think that there are two very strong group, F with Real Madrid, Maccabi Elite, Zalgiris and Olympiacos and then ours with CSKA, AXA FCB and Lottomatica Roma. There is a favourite like CSKA, that is the team to beat in this group without any kind of doubt. We will have to fight for the remaining spot with Barcelona and Roma. We play our opening two games on the road but even with that, we have the experience of reaching the Final Four last season and we will give our best, just as usual."