Kaba leads Nanterre for a sweep of Unicaja
With a boost from Alpha Kaba's career-best performance, Nanterre 92 rallied in the fourth quarter to down the visiting Unicaja Malaga 80-74 on Wednesday night. The victory improved Nanterre to 2-2 in third place of Group E and gave it a sweep of Unicaja, which dropped to 0-4 and was eliminated with the loss. The teams traded big first-half runs, with Nanterre dominating the first quarter and Unicaja doing the same in the second. They continued trading blows in the second half and Unicaja led 59-66 early in the fourth before Nanterre rallied behind Chris Warren and Kaba to pull out the victory. Kaba had career-highs of 21 points and 15 rebounds, and Warren scored 19 in a victory. Tyler Stone added 12 points and 6 rebounds, while Johnny Berhanemeskel scored 11 points for Nanterre. Yannick Nzosa paced Unicaja with 13 points. Axel Bouteille scored 12, while Jaime Fernandez, Francis Alonso, Adam Waczynski and Tim Abromatisi had 10 apiece in the loss.
The hosts had things go their way early on. Isaia Cordinier fought for a put-back and Marcquise Reed raced for a fastbreak dunk before Ivan Fevrier knocked down a triple to make it 11-6. Adam Waczynski scored inside and Abromaitis from the outside for Unicaja, but Warren had a pair of jumpers and Kaba a pair of close-range baskets to make it 26-13 after 10 minutes. A triple from Berhanemeskel opened a 29-15 difference early in the second quarter, but Nzosa scored inside and Bouteille from long range to spark the visitors' offense. Alonso hit from deep, too, while Nzosa and Bouteille continued scoring inside before back-to-back triples from Abromaitis and Fernandez put Unicaja in front 30-33. Warren snapped a 1-18 Unicaja run with a three-pointer and Stone had a three-point play, but the visitors scored the last 7 points of the half to take a 36-42 advantage into halftime.
Nanterre opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run, with Warren knocking down 2 triples before Bouteille and Alonso answered in kind to send Unicaja back in front. A triple from Waczynski put Unicaja up 46-51, but Kaba scored 7 points, including a three-point play, and the teams went to the fourth quarter tied at 57-57. A pair of baskets from Nzosa and the young big man's dunk-plus-foul opened a 59-66 lead for Unicaja But Stone and Cordinier fought inside, and after Dario Brizuela's three-point play, Warren and Stone restore Nanterre's lead at 72-71. Fernandez had a three-point play for the visitors, but Warren finished a fastbreak with a layup, then Kaba caught an offensive rebound and had a basket-plus-foul 38.5 second to go to make it 78-74, lifting Nanterre to victory.
Alpha Kaba had a monster game with 21 points on 6-for-9 shooting, and 7 of his 15 rebounds were on the offensive glass. He scored 7 points and had 3 offensive rebounds in the final 7 minutes of the game.
Kaba had 15 of Nanterre's 46 rebounds as the hosts outrebounded Unicaja 46-26 on the night.
Nanterre had a 13-3 run in the first, and Unicaja had a 1-18 spurt in the second quarter that turned the game around. But the last big run was by the hosts, ending the game with a 14-2 run in the final 4 minutes to pull out a victory.
Young gun rises
Unicaja big man Yannic Nzosa will not turn 18 until November, but it did not stop him from standing out in this game. He played a career-high 23 minutes and scored a career-best 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting. He also had 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block.
Both teams will be back in action on the road in the first week of March for Round 5. Nanterre will face its French League rival AS Monaco (3-1) and Unicaja will play a fellow Spanish side, Joventut Badalona (3-1).
Wednesday, February 3, 2021