Unicaja Malaga took a 72-84 road win at Alba Berlin in Group A on Wednesday. In a game which was close for 30 minutes, 10 of 22 three-pointers by the Spanish team as well as their dominance under the boards in the second half were too much for the Berliners. Unicaja raised its record to 6-7, good for fifth place, but even with the Spanish side's continuing protest of an earlier loss, there is no chance to catch Efes Pilsen, who also won tonight, for fourth place now. Unicaja was led by Veljko Mrsic and Paco Vazquez with 17 points each, with Vazquez draining 5 three-pointers. Alba, which drops to 3-10 and stays in seventh place, had Derrick Phelps as its leading scorer with 18 points.
Alba, without Marko Pesic and Henrik Rodl, both injured on Tuesday, and Unicaja, without Milan Gurovic, nonetheless treated the Berlin crowd to a quick up-and-down game in the first quarter. During the first 10 minutes the lead changed 10 times, with Alba eventually prevailing 25-24. Stefano Garris for Alba and Paco Vazquez for Unicaja proved to have especially hot hands with 9 points and 2 treys each. Both coaches used the first break to demand more efforts on defense, thus the pace slowed considerably in the second quarter. Unicaja still hit a few more three-pointers, but Alba benefited from a rash of turnovers by the Spanish team. Six more points by Garris, who finished with 14 on the half, gave Alba a 42-38 lead heading into the lockerrooms. For Unicaja, Vazquez was up to 11 points.
With big men Dejan Koturovic and Sven Schultze in foul trouble, Unicaja had more space inside, and took advantage with 8 points by Mrsic and 6 more by Danya Abrams en route to a 60-63 advantage after 30 minutes. Vazquez opened the fourth quarter awith his fourth three-pointer for a 60-66 edge. Now, with Wendell Alexis on the bench and Phelps missing two layups, the Berliners from 34th to 36th minute suffered Unicaja's decisive break, finished off by a fifth trey by Vazquez.
Wednesday, February 6, 2002