Monaco downs UNICS in OT thriller
In a thriller that needed overtime to determine the winner, AS Monaco stayed undefeated in its first Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season by downing UNICS Kazan 80-88 on the road on Friday. Monaco improved to 2-0 in the standings while UNICS dropped to 0-2. Donta Hall led the winners with 16 points. Mike James added 14, Paris Lee 12, Brock Motum 11 and Danilo Andjusic 10. Mario Hezonja led UNICS with 17 points. John Brown added 14, Lorenzo Brown had 13 while Isaiah Canaan and Andrey Vorontsevich each had 10 for the hosts. An outstanding Andjusic allowed Monaco to get a 15-18 lead at the end of the first quarter. John Brown and Lorenzo Brown fueled a 7-0 run that put UNICS ahead, 32-31, but Donatas Motiejunas and Rudy Demahis – who hit a buzzer-beating three from beyond midcourt – restored a 35-39 Monaco edge at halftime. Hezonja scored 10 points in the third quarter, getting help from John Brown and Canaan to put UNICS in charge, 58-50, after 30 minutes. Leo Westermann, Motum and Hall allowed Monaco to get a 72-73 lead with a minute left. Hezonja scored down low and James split foul shots to send the game to overtime, 74-74. James, Hall and Lee made the difference in crunch time.
Andjusic got Monaco going with a jumper that Vorontsevich bettered with back-to-back triples for a 6-2 UNICS lead. Andjusic and Lorenzo Brown traded jumpers and Rob Gray buried an off-balance shot for an 8-6 score. Dmitri Uzinskii dunked but Gray and a red hot Andjusic made Monaco regain a 10-11 edge. Lorenzo Brown scored off a steal but Jerry Boutsiele and Andjusic kept their team ahead, 13-16. James hit a floater that Canaan matched but Monaco was still up 15-18 after 10 minutes.
Hall scored down low early in the second quarter. Jarrell Brantley and Motum exchanged three-pointers and James banked in a five-meter shot for a 18-25 Monaco lead. John Brown rescued UNICS with a backdoor layup and followed Marco Spissu's triple with a jumper that tied it at 25-25. Westermann and Motum fueled a 0-6 Monaco run before John Brown and Lorenzo Brown restored a 32-31 UNICS edge. Motiejunas scored around the basket, Lee found his first points and Demahis buried a 15-meter prayer to give Monaco a 35-39 lead at halftime.
Hezonja, who had been scoreless until then, had 6 quick points to tie it at 41-41. Tonye Jekiri and Boutsiele exchanged layups and a red-hot Hezonja struck from beyond the arc at 46-43. Lorenzo Brown hit a jumper, getting help from John Brown and Spissu to make it 54-47. Paris Lee rescued Monaco with a three-pointer but John Brown scored again and Canaan beat the third-quarter buzzer with a transition layup for a 58-50 UNICS margin after 30 minutes.
Motum stepped up with a put-back layup early in the fourth quarter and followed Hall's alley-oop dunk with a three-point play to bring Monaco within 60-57. Westermann scored in the low post and added a driving layup to tie, 61-61. Hezonja and James traded bombs from the arc, then Hall's basket inside completed Monaco's comeback, 64-66. Vorontsevich hit a jumper, Motum answered with a jump-hook and Canaan tied it again, 68-68. Vorontsevich banked in a close shot that Lee improved with a triple. John Brown nailed a jumper, Hall erased that with a tip-in and Hezonja gave UNICS a 74-73 lead with 46 seconds remaining. Monaco got the ball back and James drew a foul with 1.3 seconds left. He split attempts, grabbed his own rebound and missed again at the buzzer sending the game to overtime tied 76-76.
In overtime. John Brown hit a jumper and Lorenzo Brown matched James's stop-and-pop floater with a driving layup, good for a 78-76 UNICS lead. Hall hit free throws and James added a five-meter jumper, as UNICS struggled to score when it mattered most. Lee took over with a three-pointer that made the hosts call timeout, 78-83, with 1:31 left. Hall took over with a wild alley-oop that sealed the outcome, 78-87, in the final minutes.
James, Lee step up in crunch time
Lorenzo Brown gave UNICS its last lead, 78-76, early in overtime, as Monaco used an 0-11 run to get the win. Donta Hall made free throws and Mike James buried the go-ahead jumper in a one-on-one isolation play against Mario Hezonja. James found Paris Lee for a critical triple, and soon connected with Hall for a high-flying alley-oop slam. Monaco managed to keep UNICS scoreless for almost 3 minutes in overtime, and James made things happen with the basketball in his hands.
Hezonja takes over after the break
Mario Hezonja went scoreless in the first half but allowed UNICS Kazan to keep its chances open with a really solid second half. He finished the game with 17 points and 5 rebounds. Hezonja had 6 quick points after the break to erase Monaco's first-half margin, and kept going to give UNICS a 58-50 lead. He also scored a layup off an inbound play which eventually allowed UNICS to take the game to overtime. Hezonja could not lead his team to victory but showed he can make things happen for the Russian powerhouse going forward.
Monaco: no losses against UNICS
Monaco has now beaten UNICS in all five of their matchups in European competitions. Both teams faced each other for the first time in the 2019-20 EuroCup Top 16. Monaco defeated UNICS 78-84 at Basket Hall Kazan and registered a no-doubt-about-it 85-60 home victory. Last season, both teams met again in the EuroCup Finals. Monaco downed UNICS 89-87 at home, and went on to defeat the Russian powerhouse 83-86 to lift the EuroCup trophy. Only two players - Rob Gray and Rudy Demahis - are still with Monaco, as well as Coach Zvezdan Mitrovic.
Friday, October 8, 2021