Shermadini powers Unicaja past Maccabi for fourth straight win
Unicaja Malaga raced to its fourth straight victory with a 78-89 comeback triumph over Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv. The home team was ahead by double digits in the second quarter, but Unicaja’s defense took over in the second half, restricting Maccabi to just 31 points after the break in a game of multiple lead changes which concluded with the visitors pulling away in the final stages. Unicaja improved to 7-8 at the midway point of the regular season, hot on the heels of Maccabi at 8-7. Nemanja Nedovic led all scorers with 20 points including 4-of-7 three-point shooting and big man Giorgi Shermadini played a key role with 15 points and 9 rebounds. Jeff Brooks added 18 points and 7 boards, and Ray McCallum netted 15. Norris Cole paced Maccabi with 16 points, Art Parakhouski scored 15 and Pierre Jackson added 14, while Jonah Bolden combined 8 points, 10 rebounds and 5 steals.
Nedovic opened the scoring from long-range, but Maccabi answered with baskets from Parakhouski, DeAndre Kane and Bolden, before McCallum’s triple tied it up. Michael Roll sank Maccabi’s first triple and Jackson converted a reverse layup, but Brooks responded with 5 points in a hurry to tie it again midway through the first. Cole drove for a pair of nice finishes, but Shermadini netted a layup for another tie. Cole hit a triple before Shermadini and Alex Tyus scored from close range, making it 22-19 after the first. Jake Cohen opened the second with a triple, Karam Mashour added a tip-in and John DiBartolomeo hit a threee for a 30-19 lead. Tyus scored a fastbreak layup to complete a 12-0 run, before Alberto Diaz scored Unicaja’s first points of the second quarter with a triple. Cole went coast to coast and scored a reverse layup, but Adam Waczynski and Brooks hit triples to make it 38-28. James Augustine pulled back the deficit to single figures from close range, Jackson and Nedovic exchanged triples. McCallum connected with a smooth fadeaway and Kane scored a fastbreak slam for a 47-39 lead at halftime.
Nedovic scored 4 in a hurry as Unicaja started the second half strong, and before long he scored a triple to make it a 2-point game. Brooks grabbed an offensive board to tie the game at 54-54 midway through the third quarter, but Bolden sent Maccabi ahead again with a corner three. A big triple from Diaz kept it close, and Unicaja took its first lead in a long time with a close-range finish from Shermadini, who scored again with a layup on the buzzer to finish the third quarter at 58-61. Waczynski floated in a tough shot to start the fourth, but Jackson struck back-to-back triples to send the home team ahead. Shermadini restored Unicaja’s lead with a layup and one, before Jackson swung it back with another long-range bomb. The lead continued to swap hands as Nedovic, Mashour and McCallum all netted layups and Shermadini continued his dominance by converting free throws for a 71-74 lead midway through the final quarter. Parakhouski got Maccabi closer, but Carlos Suarez hit a triple and Nedovic made free throws to make it 73-79. Parakhouski narrowed the gap again, but McCallum scored from downtown and then added a spectacular layup to secure the win.
Thursday, December 28, 2017