Unicaja stays strong in its home court in Malaga, Spain by downing previously undefeated Panathinaikos 82-79 in Group C on Thursday. Unicaja registered its third consecutive Euroleague home win this season and improved to 3-2 in the standings to share the third spot in the Group C standings with CSKA Moscow and Montepaschi Siena. Meanwhile, Panathinaikos dropped to 4-1 but still ties for the top spot in this group with Real Madrid. Marcus Brown led the winners with 21 points on 8 of 9 free throws, Carlos Cabezas added 14, Stephane Risacher 13 on 5-for-7 shooting and Walter Herrmann had 10 for Unicaja. Vassilis Spanoulis led Panathinaikos with 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting, Mike Batiste added 19 on 8 of 10 two-pointers while Dimitris Diamantidis and Jaka Lakovic each had 14 for the Greens. Unicaja led 52-36 at halftime, while Brown and Daniel Santiago allowed the hosts to 67-56 after 30 minutes. Panathinaikos used a 0-10 run in which Spanoulis had 8 points to get back into the game, but Unicaja stays calmed in a final carousel of free throws and registered a valuable home win.
Diamantidis opened fire with a tip-in, but Risacher matched that in the other end. Tsartsaris fed Batiste for a layup, but a three-pointer by Risacher and a long jumper by Brown gave Unicaja its first lead, 7-4. Tsartsaris added a big dunk and Lakovic slashed for a layup and a 7-8 Panathinaikos lead. Brown and Batiste exchanged baskets while Lakovic added a fast break layup for a 9-12 margin. Brown took over with a big basket and soon nailed a three for a 14-14 tie. Diamantidis slashed for a layup and Batiste rebounded at both ends, but Risacher and Garbajosa kept Unicaja in the game. Batiste rolled off the pick to score and made free throws for a 20-21 Panathinaikos edge after 10 minutes.
Garbajosa got Unicaja going early in the second with a driving layup, igniting a 6-0 run highlighted by Santiago's wild two-handed dunk for a 26-21 Unicaja lead. Spanoulis came to the rescue with a tough basket, but the guests still struggled to score. Meanwhile, Berni Rodriguez made free throws to which Herrmann added consecutive triples to force a Panathinaikos timeout at 34-25. Cabezas scored from downtown to make it a 12-point game, 37-25, but Spanoulis followed a three-point play with a pull-up jumper to keep the Greens alive. Unicaja did not panic, Santiago fired up the crowd with his second dunk and Cabezas added a layup for a 42-30 margin. Tsartsaris followed free throws with a mid-range jumper, but Cabezas simply took over with back-to-back threes. Herrmann made free throws to give Unicaja its biggest lead so far, 52-36, at halftime.
Batiste nailed a jumper immediately after the break but Risacher answered with a corner three for Unicaja, whose defense carried on Panathinaikos' shot selection. Spanoulis slashed for a layup and followed it with free throws, igniting a 6-0 run which Batiste capped with a fast break basket, forcing Unicaja to call timeout. Risacher buried another corner three and a dominant Santiago scored in the paint for a 61-44 Unicaja margin. Diamantidis came to the rescue with a driving layup and a steal which allowed Batiste to nail a short jumper. Santiago followed a layup with consecutive blocks on Nikos Hatzivrettas and Spanoulis, but it didn't last long. Diamantidis nailed a corner three and Hatzivrettas added a layup, while a big layup by an outstanding Diamantidis fixed the score at 67-56 after 30 minutes.
Brown scored in the paint while Panathinaikos struggled to score early in the fourth period until Spanoulis slashed for a layup. Brown took over with a left-handed layup for a 71-58 Unicaja lead with 6 minutes to go. Batiste scored around the basket while Spanoulis simply took over with 8 consecutive points, including a triple and a driving layup, to get the Greens back into the game, 71-68, after a 0-10 run. Rodriguez made free throws but Lakovic beat the shot slock with a wild three-pointer. Brown hit 2 foul shots but Spanoulis scored in penetration for a 75-73 Panathinaikos deficit already in the final minute, but he had a critical turnover which allowed Rodriguez to make free throws with 32 seconds to go. Batiste and Cabezas made one foul shot apiece, but Lakovic stepped up with a three-point play for a 78-77 Unicaja edge with 11.2 seconds remaining. Nobody else missed from the line, as Cabezas, Lakovic and Brown made 2 apiece, while George Kalaitzis missed a desperation three at the buzzer.
Thursday, December 1, 2005