Unicaja beats Alba in Berlin
Unicaja Malaga kept its chances to finish first in Group B by downing Alba Berlin 63-74 in the German capital on Thursday. Unicaja improved to 7-2 and is tied for first place with Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv. Unicaja will win Group A if it beats Elan Chalon-sur-Saone next week and Alba beats Maccabi. Alba dropped to 4-5 and ranks fourth overall. Both teams were already qualified to the Top 16 before the game. Marcus Williams paced the winners with 16 points. Luka Zoric added 11 for Unicaja. Sven Schultze led Alba with 12 points while Derrick Byars and Yassin Idbihi each added 11 for the hosts. Idbihi added 12 rebounds for a double-double. Albert Miralles and Nihad Djedovic fueled an early 11-0 run that allowed Alba to take an 18-14 edge after 10 minutes. Unicaja improved its defense and found a go-to guy in James Gist, who got some help from Earl Calloway and Krunoslav Simon to put the guests ahead, 35-36, at halftime. Schultze shined after the break to give Alba a 49-41 margin, but Williams had 10 points in a 0-14 run that put Unicaja ahead for good, 49-55, late in the third quarter. Unicaja boosted its margin to 58-69 and cruised to its fourth road win this season.
First quarter: Alba uses 11-0 run to get lead
James Gist got Unicaja going with a free throw, as Alba tried a small starting lineup with Zach Morley at power forward. Derrick Byars hit a five-meter jumper and a three-point play by Albert Miralles gave Alba a 5-1 lead. Nihad Djedovic shined with a put-back layup. Miralles made free throws and a put-back dunk by Morley capped an 11-0 Alba run. Kosta Perovic tried to change things with a five-meter jumper and a layup. The guests entered the foul bonus and Alba tried to make the most out of it. Morley hit free throws, but a three-pointer by Earl Calloway brought Unicaja a bit closer, 13-8. DaShaun Wood answered from downtown. Augusto Cesar Lima split foul shots and a layup by Yassin Ibdihi made it a 9-point game. Lima kept pacing Unicaja with a layup and a three-pointer by Sergi Vidal gave the guests some fresh air at 18-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Second quarter: Gist leads Unicaja to halftime edge
Idbihi stepped up with a put-back basket early in the second quarter, which Txemi Urtasun erased with a fast break layup. Byars ignited the crowd with a corner triple. Urtasun quickly answered with a long two-pointer that kept Unicaja within 23-18. Djedovic shined with a driving layup only to see Marcus Williams bury a three-pointer. Vule Avdalovic fed Miralles for a wild dunk, but free throws by Krunoslav Simon and James Gist made it 27-24. Idbihi scored down low, however Alba kept missing open shots. Avdalovic made free throws and Djedovic followed Gist's three-pointer with more foul shots. Simon shined with a floating layup and Gist buried another triple from the same exact stop to make it a 1-point game. Alba kept struggling to score and free throws by Calloway completed Unicaja's comeback, 33-34. Idbihi rescued Alba with a backdoor layup, which Simon erased with a put-back basket for a 35-36 Unicaja edge at halftime.
Third quarter: Williams steps us, leads 0-14 Unicaja run
Byars shined with a backdoor layup immediately after the break, as Unicaja was held scoreless for more than two minutes. Calloway stepped up with a layup off a steal, but Ibdihi insisted with another basket and Byars added free throws for a 41-38 Alba lead. Sven Schultze took over with a bomb from downtown before Unicaja called timeout down 6. Simon buried a corner triple right before fouling out. Schultze followed free throws with a rainbow jumper to boost the hosts' lead to 49-41. Williams tried to change things with a three-pointer and a fast break layup, as Unicaja improved with a 2-3 zone defense. Williams took over with a wild driving layup off a timeout and free throws by Zoric put the guests back ahead, 49-50. Williams struck from downtown and a fast break layup by Zoran Dragic boosted Unicaja's lead to 49-55, after a 0-14 run. Schultze scored down low, but Lima matched that with a six-meter jumper and free throws by Vidal fixed the score at 51-59 through three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Unicaja keeps cool, adds road win
Byars scored in penetration early in the fourth quarter and a three-pointer by Schultze gave Alba some hope at 56-60. An unstoppable Williams quickly answered from downtown and Vidal fed Dragic for an easy basket, good for a 56-65 Unicaja margin. Alba couldn't find the way to the basket until Morley hit a jump hook. Zoric buried back-to-back five-meter jumpers to give Unicaja its first double-digit lead, 58-69. Unicaja started to use longer possessions to run the game clock down and kept dominating the game with outstanding defense. Djedovic made free throws and Avdalovic added a layup in transition, but only managed to bring Alba within 62-70 with over two minutes left. Unicaja didn't panic, however, as Zoric hit foul shots and Gist had a huge block against Djedovic. By the time Zoric scored again, the outcome was already clear, 62-74. Unicaja added another road win. In the closing minutes, a knee injury to Avdalovic left all Alba fans worried.
Thursday, December 6, 2012