Late tip-in gives Unicaja win at Buducnost
Unicaja Malaga captured a thrilling road victory at Buducnost VOLI Podgorica, winning 81-82 thanks to a tip-in in the waning seconds. Unicaja was down by 4 points with 32 seconds left, but won the game with Deon Thompson’s put-back with 2.2 seconds to play. Axel Toupane scored 17 points, Volodymyr Gerun had 13 and Thompson chipped in 10 points for Unicaja, which improved to 5-1 in Group D. Buducnost suffered another heart-breaking defeat in falling to 0-6 despite Justin Cobbs scoring 26 points with 5 assists. Scott Bamforth added 18 points and Hassan Martin tallied 12 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals.
Thompson scored the first 4 points as Unicaja went up 0-6. Bamforth responded with back-to-back threes and Danilo Nikolic had 4 points for Buducnost’s first lead, 12-10. Bamforth moved to 10 points already and Martin completed a three-point play as the hosts’ advantage went to 21-14. Josh Adams punched back at the other end with 7 points and the game was even 23-23 after 10 minutes. A Suad Sehovic triple put the hosts up 28-25 only to see Melvin Ejim nail a long ball of his own in an 0-8 answer and Jaime Fernandez’s three made it 30-36. After Buducnost connected on 7 of 8 free throws to even the game at 40-40, Ruben Guerrero had two tip-ins in a 0-7 spurt for the visitors, who led 46-51 at the break. A Nikolic three-pointer started the second half, but Unicaja was still up 56-60 as Toupane had 5 points. Cobbs responded with 4 points in a 10-0 Buducnost run to pull ahead 66-60. The home side held Unicaja to just one basket for more than 5 minutes and was up 69-65 with 10 minutes left. Unicaja pulled to within 69-68 as Buducnost could not score in the first 2 minutes of the final quarter. Cobbs got the hosts on the board and nailed a three-pointer for a 76-72 lead. Cobbs added another basket and Bamforth nailed a huge three-pointer with 32 seconds left to make it 81-77. Toupane answered by hitting all 3 free throws and then Cobbs committed an offensive foul running into Fernandez on an inbounds play with 18 seconds left to hand the ball back to the visitors. Unicaja ran down the clock and Fernandez drove to the lane for a layup, which missed but Thompson was there for a tip-in with 2.2 seconds left. Luka Bozic’s attempt to win it at the buzzer was off and Unicaja survived.
Buducnost just cannot get lucky in tight games; the Montenegrin champion lost its fourth straight game by 3 points or fewer: losing at home against Asseco Arka Gdynia 59-62; at Galatasaray Doga Sigorta Istanbul 84-83; and at home versus EWE Baskets Oldenburg 83-85 in the three previous games.
Axel Toupane was there all game for Unicaja with a team-high 17 points, including 2 three-pointers and 5-of-5 free-throw shooting, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal for a PIR of 21.
Unicaja won the rebounding battle 35 to 24 including 15 offensive rebounds for 15 second-chance points to 8 for Buducnost. Unicaja turned the ball over 17 times, but offset it with the offensive rebounds as well as hitting 20 of 29 free throws compared to 11 of 13 for the hosts.
Buducnost will head to Italy next to try and snap its losing streak against Dolomiti Energia Trento on Tuesday, November 12. Unicaja is hoping to move to 6-1 as it hosts Asseco Arka Gdynia the next day.
Wednesday, November 6, 2019