Club Profile: Unicaja Malaga

Sep 01, 2020 by Print
Club Profile: Unicaja Malaga

Unicaja Malaga goes into the 2020-21 season aiming to add a second 7DAYS EuroCup trophy following its 2017 crown. It will be Unicaja’s third straight campaign in the EuroCup and the team has reached at least the quarterfinals in all three previous appearances. Last season, Unicaja opened Group D with three straight wins - versus Buducnost VOLI Podgorica, at Asseco Arka Gdynia and against Galatasaray Doga Sigorta Istanbul. Its first loss came at EWE Baskets Oldenburg after which Unicaja raced past Dolomiti Energia Trento and then won at Buducnost on a tip-in with 2.2 seconds left. Unicaja’s record was 6-1 after a blowout of Arka, but the team stumbled to the finish line, losing at Galatasaray and Trento. Nevertheless, its 7-3 record was good enough for first place in the group. Unicaja’s slump continued with the Top 16 opener, in which it lost 84-82 at Tofas Bursa. Unicaja came out of the rut with a home win over Joventut Badalona and then won back-to-back games over MoraBanc Andorra. Unicaja completed a four-game winning streak by exacting revenge against Tofas before losing at Joventut to finish Group H with a 4-2 record and first place. That set up a quarterfinals date with Umana Reyer Venice, which was then canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Domestically, Unicaja hosted the Spanish Copa dey Rey and knocked off Casademont Zaragoza and MoraBanc Andorra to reach the final, which it lost to Real Madrid. It was the team’s first cup final since 2009. In the Spanish League, Unicaja had a three-game winning streak early in the season but did not put together more than two straight wins after that. It was sitting on a 12-11 record in ninth place when the pandemic halted the season. In the end-of-season tournament, Unicaja was 3-2 and missed the semifinals. With a new EuroCup season ready to tip off, Unicaja is setting its sights on reclaiming the trophy.


2019-20 EuroCup 11-5 Quarterfinals (canceled)
2018-19 EuroCup 12-7 Quarterfinals
2016-17 EuroCup 13-9 Champion

TOTAL: 57 36-21

Unicaja Malaga returns to the 7DAYS EuroCup for its fourth go-round in the competition. Founded in 1977 as Club Baloncesto Caja de Ronda, it wasn't until 1992 – when it merged with cross-town rival Maristas – that the club started to challenge for bigger goals. Everything clicked in 1995 when Unicaja came within a shot of winning its first Spanish League title. Mike Ansley missed that shot in Game 4 of the finals and the club would have to wait until 2001 before it could celebrate its first crown. That time, led by Coach Bozidar Maljkovic and star scorer Veljko Mrsic, Unicaja was finally rewarded by winning the Korac Cup over Hemofarm Vrsac in a two-game final series. Unicaja followed that success by reaching the Spanish League finals in 2002 and the EuroLeague Top 16 for the first time in 2003, which proved to be the cornerstone of a bright future. In 2005, Unicaja lifted the Spanish Copa del Rey trophy for its first domestic title behind star forward Jorge Garbajosa. Things got even better the next season: Unicaja won the Spanish League championship with Garbajosa and home-grown talents Berni Rodriguez and Carlos Cabezas among those leading the way for Coach Sergio Scariolo. Unicaja marked its greatest continental success to date by reaching the 2007 EuroLeague Final Four in Athens, led by Daniel Santiago, Carlos Jimenez, Cabezas and Rodriguez. Even though CSKA stopped Unicaja in the semifinal, the club had confirmed its status among the European elite. Unicaja advanced to the Copa del Rey championship game in 2009 before losing in overtime against Tau Ceramica Vitoria. Despite the lack of trophies, Unicaja remained consistent with a long Top 16 run in the EuroLeague. Unicaja made it to the EuroLeague Top 16 in 11 consecutive seasons, an achievement that only FC Barcelona and Panathinaikos Athens matched. Coach Joan Plaza kept Unicaja competitive as the team reached the Spanish League semifinals in 2014 and 2015. Unicaja made its EuroCup debut in 2016-17 a spectacular one, overcoming the lack of home-court advantage in three playoff series to claim the title. In its return to the EuroLeague, Unicaja had a bunch of prestige wins, including two against defending champ Fenerbahce, but fell one place short of the playoffs. In 2018-19, Unicaja reached the EuroCup and the Spanish League quarterfinals. Last season Unicaja made it back to the Spanish Copa del Rey Cup final, which it lost to Real Madrid while taking first place in the regular season of the EuroCup and reaching the quarterfinals, which were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Unicaja refocuses its efforts on winning another EuroCup title.

Trophy Case

EuroCup: 2016-17
Korac Cup: 2001
Spanish National League: 2005-06
Spanish National Cup "Copa del Rey": 2005