Unicaja holds off resilent Metropolitans
Unicaja Malaga nearly wasted a 20-point lead but fended off Boulogne Metropolitans 92 in picking up a 96-88 home victory to start the 7DAYS EuroCup season in Group B. Tim Abromaitis and Francis Alonso both scored 14 points to pace six Unicaja scorers in double figures. Axel Bouteille tallied 13 points, Deon Thompson had 12 and Gal Mekel and Dario Brizuela both chipped in 10 points in the win. Alberto Diaz played a big role with 8 assists and 3 steals. Tomer Ginat led Metropolitans with 16 points while Anthony Brown added 15 points, Bastien Pinault 12 and Brandon Brown 10 points in the loss.
Thompson opened the scoring for Unicaja before Ginat got Metropolitans on the scoreboard. The pace was quick early with Mekel's basket-plus-foul and threes by Bouteille and Alonso giving the hosts a 14-9 cushion. A timeout for the visitors did little to change the momentum as a jumper by Bouteille pushed the lead to 9. Ginat countered with his second triple, but baskets by Thompson and Bouteille made it a double-digit lead, 22-12. Brandon Brown helped Metropolitans chip away at the deficit, however, a second-chance basket by Ruben Guerrero and a dunk by Abromaitis saw the difference soar to 14. Brandon Brown's jumper on the buzzer made it 30-18 after 10 minutes. Abromaitis nailed two threes after Unicaja offensive rebounds and Adam Waczynski also hit from long range as the cushion reached 20 points. Brandon Brown and Anthony Brown both hit three-pointers at the other end as Metropolitans held Unicaja scoreless for more than 2 minutes. Rob Gray and David Michineau also drained threes as the deficit was cut to 45-35 - resulting in an Unicaja timeout. Ginat’s next triple cut the margin to 47-38, but the home side found its rhythm again and Alberto Diaz drained a buzzer-beater for a 54-40 lead at the break.
Brizuela scored 6 early points in the second half for Unicaja while Pinault hit three-pointers at the other end to keep Metropolitans within 62-50. Unicaja continued to get balanced production as Bouteille, Guerrero and Waczynski all had 4 points as the lead moved to 76-58. The hosts led 76-64 after 30 minutes. Assem Marei’s basket trimmed the deficit to 11 points early in the final quarter only to see Alonso hit from the outside. Metropolitans would not go away with Anthony Brown cutting it to 82-72 with a three-point play with less than 6 minutes to play. Alonso answered with a three-pointer, but Pinault hit a three-pointer followed by Vitalis Chikoko’s and-one before Michineau trimmed the gap to 85-80. Michineau committed an offensive foul on the next trip down and Diaz punched back with a three-pointer. The visitors refused to die as Pinault and Ginat both hit from the outside and Maxime Roos's free throws made it 92-88 with 35 seconds remaining. With the shot clock winding down, Brizuela hit a turnaround jumper with 11 seconds left to secure the win.
A force at home
Unicaja was undefeated at home last season and the victory to start the 2020-21 season extended its EuroCup home winning streak to nine games.
Francis Alonso came up with several big plays in the fourth quarter, hitting an early three-pointer and then knocking down another triple after Metropolitans had cut the gap to 10 points. The visitors were storming back and trailed by just 5 points when Alonso drew an offensive foul on David Michineau to break the momentum.
Unicaja forced Metropolitans into 16 turnovers while committing only 8 and connected on 23 of 26 free throws (88.5%) compared to 10 of 12 for the visiting side. Metropolitans could not take advantage of making 14 of 28 three-pointers (50.0%).
Unicaja’s next game has it travelling to Mornar Bar on Tuesday, October 6. Metropolitans will host Buducnost VOLI Podgorica the same evening.
Tuesday, September 29, 2020