Vasileadis's buzzer-beater lifts Unicaja past ALBA
In an outstanding showdown that went down to the final shot, Unicaja Malaga improved to 2-0 in Group B by edging ALBA Berlin 84-87 at home on Friday. Unicaja remained undefeated after two games in Group B, while ALBA dropped to 0-2. Kostas Vasileiadis became Unicaja's hero by hitting the game-winning three-point shot at the buzzer. Ryan Toolson led the way for the winners with 13 points and 8 assists. Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Jayson Granger each added 12 points, while Fran Vazquez scored 10 for Unicaja. Marko Banic led ALBA with 16 points on 8-of-9 two-point shooting. Jamel McLean added 14 points, Cliff Hammonds scored 11 while Alex Renfroe and Alex King each got 10 for the guests, which led 15-20 after 10 minutes and kept a 36-38 edge at halftime. Kuzminskas and Vladimir Golubovic helped Unicaja bounce back after the break, but a big basket by Reggie Redding tied it at 63-63 after three quarters. ALBA led 69-75 but an outstanding Granger carried Unicaja to tie the game, 77-77. The game turned into a thriller when a layup by Renfroe gave ALBA an 82-84 edge in the final minute. A driving layup by Granger tied the game and Vasileadis won it for Unicaja right at the buzzer.
First quarter: 0-11 run gives ALBA the lead
Fran Vazquez got Unicaja going with a five-meter jumper and soon added a close basket for a 4-0 Unicaja lead. Jamel McLean stepped up with a power layup that Mindaugas Kuzminskas erased with a dunk. Reggie Redding swished a mid-range jumper, which Kostas Vasileiadis bettered with a three-pointer that gave the hosts a 9-4 lead. Marko Banic scored twice around the basket to keep ALBA within 1. Alex Renfroe fed Alex King for a layup that gave the guests their first lead, 9-10. King kept pushing ALBA with a tip-in and a five-meter jumper to make all Unicaja fans start to wonder at 9-14. The hosts had been held scoreless for more than four minutes when a free throw by Leon Radosevic capped a 0-11 ALBA run. Vladimir Golubovic scored down low, but Vojdan Stojanovski shined with a reverse layup. Jon Stefansson scored in penetration and Caleb Green added free throws, but a corner triple by Stojanovski restored a 15-20 ALBA lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Unicaja bounces back
Green hit free throws early in the second quarter, but a three-pointer by Renfroe and a tip-in by McLean boosted the guests' margin to 17-25. Ryan Toolson hit back-to-back mid-range jumpers, which Redding and Banic matched with consecutive layups for an 8-point ALBA. Golubovic took over with a three-point play, but an outstanding Banic scored again to keep the guests way ahead, 24-31. Golubovic and Vazquez made foul shots as Unicaja improved its defense, forcing ALBA to use longer possessions. A three-pointer by Stefan Markovic caused ALBA to call timeout at 30-31. King split free throws, but he didn't find much help around. Meanwhile, Markovic put Unicaja back ahead, 33-32. McLean found space for an uncontested dunk, which Green matched with a layup. Redding followed free throws with an outstanding buzzer-beating basket to put ALBA back ahead, 36-38, at halftime.
Third quarter: Banic, McLean keep ALBA in the game
Vazquez took over with an alley-oop slam right after the break. Banic fed Neils Giffey for a backdoor layup and scored again, but Kuzminskas and Jayson Granger put Unicaja back ahead, 43-42. Giffey sank a stop-and-pop jumper and King followed that with a three-pointer to give ALBA fresh air at 43-47. Granger hit free throws and a put-back layup by Vazquez tied the game again, 47-47. Banic stayed on fire with another close basket, which Kuzminskas bettered with an outstanding dunk-and-foul for a 50-49 Unicaja edge. After Radosevic split foul shots, Toolson struck from downtown. Renfroe kept ALBA within 53-52. Kuzminskas joined the three-point shootout and free throws by Toolson boosted the hosts' lead to 58-52. McLean followed foul shots with a dunk-and-foul, but a tip-in by Golubovic gave Unicaja a 60-57 edge. Banic nailed his trademark baseline jumper and Renfroe hit free throws, but a triple by Toolson kept Unicaja ahead, 63-61. A tip-in by Redding tied the game again, 63-63.
Fourth quarter: It all comes down to the final shot!
Will Thomas, who had been scoreless until this point, downed a three-pointer early in the quarter. McLean quickly answered with a wild three-point play and Cliff Hammonds struck from downtown to put ALBA back ahead, 66-69. Kuzminskas shined with a tip-in that Hammonds matched with a fast break layup for a 68-71 score. Golubovic split free throws as the game turned into a physical battle. Hammonds took over with a big three-pointer and Renfroe gave ALBA a 69-75 margin with less than six minutes left. Thomas sank another triple, but Banic quickly answered with a three-point play. Stefansson hit a four-meter jumper and Granger did better with a three-pointer to tie it at 77-77. Hammonds answered from downtown, but Granger scored in penetration. A jumper by Redding gave ALBA a 79-82 edge. Thomas answered from downtown, but a layup by Renfroe restored an 82-84 ALBA edge with under a minute left. Granger answered with a driving basket and Unicaja got the ball back with 21 seconds left. Kostas Vasileadis got the ball in the final seconds, faked and hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer!
Friday, October 24, 2014