MoraBanc Andorra has been one of the most magical stories all season in the 7DAYS EuroCup, and the latest chapter was written on Wednesday with an improbable victory – without two of its leaders – over a UNICS Kazan side described as a "monster team".
Andorra moved to 2-0 in Group H of the Top 16 after grabbing an 86-80 win at home over UNICS thanks to 21 points from Andrew Albicy. The team from the principality in the Pyrenees was missing its leading scorer, David Jelinek, as well as its top backup point guard, Rafa Luz, both due to injury. Not only that, but the victory came despite Andorra having fallen behind 0-12 after 3 minutes at the start of the game.
“We started the game with very low energy," Andorra coach Ibon Navarro said. "We have a very passionate team and the news about Rafa affected us so much. Everybody was thinking they have to play a bigger role and we had a horrible start. But at home, and with these people, we can play with energy and we were able to get back and beat a monster team."
Jelinek had averaged 13.2 points and 2.6 rebounds while Luz had picked up 2.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and a third-best 3.2 assists off the bench. After the nightmare start, it was a team effort to make up for that missing production.
After winning Top 16 Round 1 MVP honors last week, Albicy continued his fantastic form with a performance index rating of 21. He had entered the game averaging 12.3 points. Michele Vitali had been scoring 7.5 points but the Italian international netted 11 points to go with 4 rebounds and 2 assists and new big man Jerome Jordan picked up 7 points and 3 rebounds in 10 minutes in his debut.
Andorra now sits alone atop Group H with a 2-0 record while next opponent Zenit St Petersburg and UNICS are both 1-1 and Cedevita Zagreb is 0-2. The next two games against Zenit will go a long way toward seeing how much longer Andorra fans can ride this dream trip. But it was an impressive display of the next man stepping up for the dreamers from the Pyrenees.