Tofas edges Unicaja in Top 16 opener
Tofas Bursa survived a late Unicaja rally to claim an 84-82 victory over Unicaja Malaga in the teams' Top 16 opener at Tofas Spor Salonu on Tuesday. After Unicaja erased an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit with a 0-12 run to take the lead in the final minute, Berk Ugurlu.scored the go-ahead layup with 22.9 seconds remaining and the Tofas defense held up on Unicaja's final possession. Tarik Phillip led the winners with 17 points, Devin Williams tallied 15 points and 8 rebounds, Matt Lojeski added 13 points and Ugurlu finished with 11. Deon Thompson paced Unicaja with 20 points and 7 rebounds, Melvin Ejim netted 16 points and Jaime Fernandez scored 10 and dished 5 assists. Both teams were missing key players with Sammy Mejia sidelined for Tofas and Josh Adams and Carlos Suarez out for Unicaja.
Dario Brizuela drained a three from the top of the key for the first points of the Top 16. Tofas took charge with an 8-0 run in which four different players scored, but an Ejim triple kept it close at 10-9 after 4 minutes. Free throws by Phillip kept the hosts in front for a while, but Unicaja managed to tie it twice before Axel Toupane nosed the visitors in front 19-20. A three-point play by White and a three-pointer by Phillip helped Tofas to a 26-22 lead after 10 minutes. Thompson stepped up with a dunk and a triple to put Unicaja ahead 28-30 early in the second quarter. Tofas kept it close through Baris Ermis and Berkan Durmaz before regaining the lead, 36-35, midway through the quarter. After a timeout, Volodymyr Gerun scored inside on back-to-back possessions for Unicaja, however, Tofas came back. Williams shined with a blocked shot before ending the half with a tip-in to give the hosts a 48-44 halftime lead.
Lojeski and Fernandez traded shots early in the second half before Thompson drew Unicaja within 53-52. Brizuela took a seat with 4 fouls only to see his replacement, Alberto Diaz, sink 3 free throws. Thompson gave Unicaja its first lead of the second half with a hook shot that made it 57-58. Phillip scored to start and finish a 6-0 run. Brizuela returned, but fouled out with 1:19 remaining in the third quarter. Lojeski netted the corresponding foul shots for a 69-61 Tofas cushion. Ejim free throws and a Lojesko floater ended the third quarter with Tofas up 71-63. Williams established the first double-digit margin of the game with a monster slam to start the fourth quarter. The lead peaked at 79-68 on a triple by Ugurlu. Unicaja went inside to chip away at the lead. Alberto Diaz sank a mid-range jumper that prompted a Tofas timeout at 81-78 with 2:19 to play. An immediate Tofas turnover led to a basket by Ejim on the offensive glass. Thompson then scored another second-chance basket to give Unicaja the lead, 81-82, with 45 seconds remaining. Ugurlu saved Tofas with a go-ahead layup with 22.9 seconds to go, ending a 5-and-a-half minute Tofas drought. Unicaja got the ball for one last possession, but driven by a boisterous crowd, the hosts forced a turnover in the final seconds and held on for the win.
Berk Ugurlu scored 7 of his team's last 8 points in the game. He gave Tofas its biggest lead with a three-pointer (79-68) and after an Unicaja basket matched the 11-point advantage with a steal and layup. Then Unicaja reeled off 12 unanswered points, but with the game on the line, Ugurlu came up with the key basket.
Tofas did most of its damage in the paint as it set a club record for two-point shooting accuracy at 73.0% by making 27 of 37 shots inside the arc. Its 27 two-point baskets made tied the Tofas record, too. That helped make up for the 16 turnovers it committed and the 14 offensive rebounds it allowed.
Unicaja will host fellow Spanish club Joventut Badalona in Top 16 Round 2 on Tuesday, January 14. Tofas heads on the road the following night to take on Morabanc Andora.
Tuesday, January 7, 2020