Roberts's OT heroics lift Unicaja past UNICS
In a battle of former 7DAYS EuroCup champions that went to overtime, Unicaja Malaga registered its third consecutive win in Group C by downing UNICS Kazan 82-80 at home on Tuesday. Both teams now have 3-1 records. Jaime Fernandez led the winners with 23 points, Brian Roberts added 14 while Giorgi Shermadini had 10 for Unicaja. Pierria Henry paced UNICS with 21 points, Trent Lockett scored 18, Maurice Ndour 14 and Jamar Smith 10.
Lockett shined early, leading a 0-10 opening run that Ndour capped with a fast break slam. Brian Roberts and Fernandez rescued Unicaja and a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Dragan Milosavljevic tied the game at 16-16 after 10 minutes. Free throws by Fernandez gave Unicaja its first lead, 21-19, early in the second quarter. Ndour and Henry stepped up for UNICS and a jumper by Lockett put the guests back in charge, 28-30. Adam Waczynski followed a three-pointer with free throws and Carlos Suarez also struck from downtown for a 36-33 Unicaja edge at halftime. Ndour took over after the break, helping UNICS regain the lead at 41-42. Henry capped a 0-7 run with a floater and a jumper by Smith gave the visitors a 48-52 margin after 30 minutes. Lockett followed a corner triple with a dunk, causing Unicaja to call timeout at 50-57. Waczynski and an outstanding Fernandez tried to change things for the hosts, but a free throw by Kostas Kaimakoglou made it a 3-point game with over two minutes left in regulation. Henry split free throws and sank a critical floater for a 68-70 UNICS lead. Mathias Lessort drew a foul with 8.3 seconds left and sank both attempts to send the game to overtime, as Henry missed around the basket at the buzzer. Roberts followed a triple with a jumper and struck again from downtown for an 80-75 Unicaja edge. UNICS got a bit closer, 82-79, and Henry drew a foul with 6.8 seconds left. He missed his second attempt and grabbed the offensive rebound, but Melvin Ejim missed from beyond the arc at the buzzer.
Fernandez had a EuroCup career-best scoring night with 23 points - his previous record was 19, playing for MoraBanc Andorra against Fiat Turin last season – and tied his best mark in assists with 7. He also drew 10 fouls for a performance index rating of 27.
UNICS got its last lead early in overtime, 72-73. Roberts hit a three-pointer, added a jumper and soon buried another shot from beyond the arc to give Unicaja an 80-75 margin with 1:33 remaining. Even though the game literally came down to the last shot, Roberts shined for Unicaja to keep its chances alive in crunch time.
Unicaja hit just 10 of 33 two-point shots - 30.3%, its worst percentage ever in the EuroCup, by far (the previous low was 40.6% 2FG against Valencia Basket), but managed to survive due to its three-point accuracy, hitting 12 of 26 shots from downtown (46.1%) to eventually win the game.
Did you notice?
UNICS had a better index rating in this game, 81-83, in a losing effort. UNICS pulled down 20 offensive rebounds for the second time this season – it already did so in its road win against Mornar Bar. No other team has pulled down 20 offensive boards in a EuroCup game this season; Cedevita Zagreb had 19 against Arla Gdynia.
Both teams return to action on Wednesday, October 31. UNICS hosts Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt at 18:00 CET and Unicaja visits Fiat Turin at 20:30 CET.
Tuesday, October 23, 2018