Thompson fires Unicaja past Arka
Unicaja Malaga overcame Asseco Arka Gdynia in a low-scoring slugfest to stay perfect in Group D, coming away with a hard-fought 59-66 road victory. Points were at a premium throughout, with both teams desperately struggling for offensive rhythm and regularly undergoing long periods without scoring. Unicaja was ahead most of the way and showed enough strength on defense to protect its lead in the final stages. The winning team was very much led by 21 points from Deon Thompson, with no other Unicaja player reaching double figures. Phillip Greene paced Arka with 18 points, including 4 of his team’s 5 three-pointers, while Devonte Upson contributed 11 points and 7 rebounds for the Polish team, which drops to 1-1.
Both teams struggled to get their offenses moving, with Unicaja failing to score in the first 4 minutes while Arka managed just 1 field goal. The Spanish side gradually took over, though, moving ahead with a 0-9 run containing 4 points for Thompson, and an alley-oop between Adam Waczynski and Frank Elegar finished the first quarter at 6-12. Arka had been held to 2 points in 8 minutes, and Unicaja continued to dominate by establishing a double digit lead as Aleksa Avramovic scored twice. But Upson’s dunk sparked the home team, and Greene finally knocked down the home team’s first triple before making two more and then a driving layup, giving the hosts a 30-28 lead after a 13-1 run at the end of the second. Greene scored again from long-range early in the third, but Thompson made 3 baskets in 4 minutes to restore Unicaja’s advantage and Alberto Diaz netted from deep for a 33-42 edge. Free throws dominated the remainder of the third quarter, which finished 44-49. No field goals were scored in the first 3:39 of the final period, before Upson’s dunk made it a one-point game, 50-51. Waczynski boosted Unicaja from the foul line and with a jumper, and a three-point play by Thompson made the visitors more comfortable. Adam Hrycaniuk scored twice for Arka, but the home team couldn’t find enough offense as Unicaja held on.
Free throws play pivotal role
In a game otherwise notable for lacklustre offense, both teams made pretty good use of their trips to the free throw line. Arka made 20 of its 25 foul shots (80%), while Unicaja was successful on a very similar 22-of-27 attempts (81.5%). Overall, more than a third of the game’s points (42 out of 125, or 33.6%) came from the free throw line.
Arka suffers from slow start
Arka never really recovered from a horribly slow start on offense, bridging the first and second quarters by going nearly 10 minutes without scoring a single point. Midway through the second period the home team had made just 3 of its 22 field goal attempts – 3-of-14 two-pointers and 0-of-8 from beyond the arc. That set the tone for a tough night for the Polish team.
Greene gave hosts hope
The only exception to the night’s sluggish scoring came when Arka’s Philiip Greene exploded just before half-time. He started off by netting his team’s first three-pointer – at the ninth attempt – and then added another pair of triples followed by a buzzer beating layup. That meant he had single-handedly scored 11 of his team’s 30 first-half points (36.7%) in less than three minutes.
Round 3 will see Unicaja defend its perfect record by returning home to welcome Galatasaray Doga Sigorta Istanbul, while Arka heads on the road to face Buducnost VOLI Podgorica.
Wednesday, October 9, 2019