Gran Canaria beats UNICS, qualifies
Herbalife Gran Canaria survived yet another do-or-die situation by downing UNICS Kazan 96-90 at home on Wednesday to clinch a spot in the EuroCup Quarterfinals. After a 0-3 start in Top 16 Group H, Gran Canaria finished second with a 3-3 record due to its tie-break advantage against MoraBanc Andorra. UNICS dropped to 5-1. A.J. Slaughter led the winners with 24 points, Matt Costello and John Shurna each added 14 and Aleksander Balcerowski and Javier Beiran had 11 apiece for Gran Canaria. Jamar Smith led UNICS with a career-high 32 points. Jordan Morgan had 20 and 10 rebounds, while John Brown got 10 points for the visitors. Gran Canaria hit 5 three-point shots in the first quarter to take a 31-17 lead after 10 minutes. Gran Canaria boosted its margin to 57-40 at halftime and then again to 78-58 at the end of the third quarter and held on the rest of the way.
Slaughter got Gran Canaria going with a layup-plus-foul and a three-pointer in a 10-2 opening run in which Shurna added consecutive layups. Morgan scored twice around the basket and got help from Okaro White to bring UNICS within 12-11. Tomas Dimsa stepped up with a coast-to-coast layup and a triple, Slaughter and Costello each struck from beyond the arc and Balcerowski soon added a three-point play to boost the hosts' lead to 28-16. Costello sank another three-pointer that gave Gran Canaria a 31-17 lead after 10 minutes. Sean Kilpatrick hit a jumper in transition early in the second quarter. Isaiah Canaan followed a driving layup with a triple and Georgy Zhbanov scored off a steal, but Dimsa and an unstoppable Balcerowski kept Gran Canaria way ahead, 43-26. Jordan Theodore and John Holland buried a three-pointer apiece before Slaughter scored off an inbounds pass and Shurna kept the hosts fully in charge, 50-34. Morgan dunked with authority and added a tip-in but Dimsa and Jean Montero restored a 57-40 Gran Canaria lead at halftime.
Costello hit a jump hook soon after the break. Beiran scored again and Kilpatrick added a triple that broke the game open, 64-40. Smith answered from downtown and followed Brown's put-back layup with a driving basket that gave UNICS hope at 67-47. Beiran banked in a jump hook and Slaughter struck from beyond the arc for a 72-49 score. Brown and Smith kept pacing the visitors, but UNICS only managed to trade baskets, staying within 78-58 after 30 minutes. Balcerowski scored down low early in the fourth quarter. Morgan and Evgeny Kolesnikov brought the guests within 80-65 with 8 minutes to go. Shurna and Dmitrii Uzinskii traded three-pointers and then Theodore got UNICS within 83-71. Costello followed a dunk with a three-pointer to seal the outcome, 89-73, as UNICS could not complete its comeback in the final 3 minutes.
A.J. Slaughter stepped up early in the game, getting 6 points in an opening 10-2 run, and kept going until the final buzzer. He finished the game with 24 points on 4-of-9 three-point shooting plus 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block and 5 fouls drawn for a PIR of 22.
Gran Canaria led 55-40 near halftime. That's when Jean Montero scored around the basket, igniting a 9-0 run that bridged the halves. Matt Costello hit a jump hook, Javier Beiran added a fast break layup and Sean Kilpatrick buried a triple for a 64-40 Gran Canaria lead, enough to dominate the game and get an important victory.
Gran Canaria had better shooting percentages in the first half, which decided the game. Gran Canaria (65.0% 2FG, 42.9% 3FG, 92.9% FT) shot the ball much better than UNICS (55.0% 2FG, 27.3% 3FG, 81.8% FT) and had 14 assists to just 4 turnovers. UNICS had 7 assists and just as many turnovers before the break.
Did you know?
Gran Canaria has made it to the EuroCup Quarterfinals for the fifth time in club history. It previously reached the quarterfinals in four consecutive years, from 2015 to 2018. It reached the EuroCup Finals in 2015 where it lost against Khimki Moscow Region.
Both teams return to 7DAYS EuroCup action in Game 1 of the 7DAYS EuroCup Quarterfinals, set to start on Tuesday, March 23. Gran Canaria visits Boulogne Metropolitans 92 and UNICS hosts Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar.
Wednesday, March 10, 2021