Roma upended Unicaja 81-75
Lottomatica Roma celebrated reaching the Top 16 earlier in the week by beating Unicaja 81-75 to improve to 5-4. The result coupled with Real Madrid’s loss at Brose Baskets creates a three-way tie for Roma, Unicaja and Madrid for second place in Group B. Lottomatica travels to group leader Olympiacos next week knowing that it cans till win the group. The hosts benefited from a breakout performance from Nihad Djedovic, who tallied a Euroleague career-high 23 points and dished 6 assists to lead the Romans. Darius Washington added 18 points, Luigi Datome scored 14 and Ali Traore posted 12 points and 10 rebounds for head coach Matteo Boniciolli. Robert Archibald scored 18 on 9-of-10 shooting and grabbed 9 rebounds to lead Unicaja. Saul Blanco added 11 points and Uros Tripkovic, Carlos Jimenez and Terrell McIntyre scored 10 each. Though Roma started with the game’s first 10 points, Unicaja came back and took the lead before the end of the opening quarter. The game remained close from that point and saw multiple lead changes in the fourth quarter. But after Archibald put Unicaja up 70-73, the hosts reeled off the game’s next 9 points and Djedovic sealed the win from the line in the closing seconds.
Roma jumped out to a promising start through Washington and Djedovic. The two were red-hot, each scoring a two- and a three-pointer – and Washington assisting on both of Djedovic’s buckets – in a 10-0 start to the game. Archibald scored Unicaja’s first basket inside and then back-to-back threes by Tripkovic and Rod Blakney put the hosts right back in the game. Djedovic’s first bucket was met by a Jimenez three, bringing the visitors within 12-11. Unicaja stayed close and took the lead at 14-15 on an offensive rebound and slam from Augusto Cesar Lima. Djedovic fed Traore for a slam and aggressive Roma defense led to baskets for Datome and Washington as Roma built a 20-15 advantage through 10 minutes.
Traore put the hosts up 7 with the first basket of the second quarter, but Archibald remained a threat inside and Saul Blanco’s first basket brought Unicaja within 3. Blanco and Tripkovic stayed hot for the visitors as the deficit shrunk and Unicaja eventually tied the score at 26-26. Josh Heytvelt stepped up from downtown to put Roma back ahead, but free throws from Blakney, Tripkovic and McIntrye kept Unicaja breathing down Roma’s neck and then the latter drilled a three to even the score at 35-35. Dasic and Washington both sank free throws to put Roma ahead once more. Djedovic extended the lead to 5 before Tripkovic nailed a three that put made it 42-40 for the home squad at the break.
Blanco got to the line and tied the score at 42-42 at the start of the second half. Datome put the hosts back ahead with an offensive rebound and 2 free throws. Traore rose to reject Archibald, but Unicaja bounced back to take its first lead since the first quarter on a McIntyre triple. The back-and-forth continued as Datome connected from downtown and Djedovic handed off to Vladimir Dasic for a pretty basket. Dasic stopped Blanco with a hard foul, but the visiting guard stayed perfect from the line to make it 54-51. Georgios Printezis cut the gap to 1 and then Archibald sank a hook, but Djedovic hit back with a baseline jumper as the lead switched hands two times more. An Archibald slam was met by a Heytvelt second-chance move as the teams continued to trade baskets. A Blakney three tied the game at 60-60. Washington stripped Blakney and coasted in for a layup and Datome blocked Tripkovic at the end of a helter-skelter finish to the quarter as Roma sat on a 62-60 lead.
Djedovic fed Dasic for an alley-oop slam, but Unicaja answered back as Jimenez connected from downtown and Blakney set up Archibald for a two-handed jam. Jimenez made it 64-69 as the Italian capital fell silent. Washington came to the rescuer with a daring drive for a basket-plus foul. McIntyre pulled up for a mid-range jumper, but the momentum moved back to the home team as Djedovic penetrated, scored a tough shot and sank a free throw to make it 70-71. McIntyre lobed a perfect pass to a cutting Archibald for a basket to give the visitors some breathing room. Traome muscled his way inside to score and Djedovic continued his strong game with 2 free throws to put Roma on top 74-73. Lima’s tip-in rolled out and Djedovic’s bounce pass set up Traore for a layup and a 3-point Roma lead with just over two minutes to play. A Djedovic layup practically sealed the win before Dasic stripped Blakeny and Archibald fouled him from behind – an unsportsmanlike foul. Dasic made 1 free throw, but Roma did not capitalize on the resulting possession and Archibald made it 79-75 with just over a minute to play. Djedovic sank 2 free throws with 56 seconds left and the Roma defense stopped Unicaja after that to lock up the victory.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010