The fact that previously winless EWE Baskets Oldenburg beat previously undefeated Unicaja Malaga by 13 points, 91-78, on Wednesday might not be all that unusual in itself. After all, Oldenburg played at home and the team felt the game was somewhat of a must-win situation if it wanted to keep in touch with the rest of Group D in the race for a 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 spot.
Considering how these two teams have performed to date this season, it was a bit of a surprise that Oldenburg led by 24 points early in the fourth quarter. That was also even more surprising because Unicaja was the team that opened the game better and controlled it early on with a six-point lead.
What was truly surprising in this result was the rebounding advantage. Unicaja grabbed 39 rebounds to Oldenburg's 26. Unicaja pulled down 17 offensive boards, 14 of them in the second half. Oldenburg had just 8 offensive rebounds. Yet, while Unicaja was controlling the offensive glass, Oldenburg increased a 10-point lead at halftime to 85-61 midway through the fourth quarter.
So, what was it on Wednesday night that allowed Oldenburg to secure such a resounding victory?
"We did a great job in pick-and-roll defense," head coach Mladen Drijencic revealed in his on-court interview after the victory. "Unicaja did not have many options in the pick-and-roll. We had many steals in those situations and on offense we controlled the game, we stayed in our structure, executed very well."
Indeed, Oldenburg really put Unicaja's offense in a tough spot. The visitors made just 9 of 23 two-point shots in the middle two quarters. Unicaja had 8 assists through the first 30 minutes of the game and shot 0 for 4 from the three-point range in the third quarter alone. Unicaja padded its stats in the final 5 minutes of the game when it made a 6-17 run with the game out of reach.
"We tried to work on our pick-and-roll defense," Braydon Hobbs, the game's leading scorer with 16 points, confirmed. "We emphasized it going into the game. We did not rebound the ball well, I turned it over a lot, but the ball went in and we focused on their pick-and-roll. Good enough for the first victory in the EuroCup."