Unicaja holds off Brescia, closes in on first place
Unicaja Malaga hit big shots down the stretch to hold onto a 79-83 road win at Germani Brescia on Wednesday night. The win improved already-qualified Unicaja's record to 7-2 and inched it closer to clinching first place in Group B. Meanwhile, this was the last home game of the season for Brescia, which dropped to 2-7 and is sure to finish at the bottom of the group standings. Unicaja led for majority of the night, but never by more than 9 points, 9-18 in the first quarter. It was a close affair from that point on, as the two teams exchanged leads in the fourth quarter. But Axel Bouteille and Dario Brizuela combined to score 20 of Unicaja's 24 fourth quarter points, lifting the viistors to victory. Brizuela had 20 points and 5 assists while Bouteille scored all of his 18 points in the second half. Francis Alonso added 11 points and Tim Abromaitis 10 for the winners. T.J. Cline led Brescia with a game-high 22 points. Drew Crawford added 13 points, Giordano Bortolani 11 and Dusan Ristic 10 points in defeat.
Unicaja took control early with a triple apiece from Abromaitis and Alonso. Cline scored 9 points, including a triple that tied it at 9-9, but Gal Mekel, Alonso and Abromaitis all hit from downtown to make it 9-18 Unicaja. Cline hit a three to get his tally to 12 points before Dusan Ristic scored twice inside cutting the difference to 16-20. Ristic and Kenny Chery joined in further closing the gap but Unicaja still led 24-26 after 10 minutes. Giordano Bortolano's fastbreak layup and triple gave Brescia its first lead, 29-26, to start the second quarter. The visitors answered with a quick 0-7 run capped by Alonso's corner triple. Crawford and Deon Thompson traded threes before Brizuela added another for the visitors at 34-40. Christian Burns fought inside for a pair of baskets and Luca Vitali nailed a jumper Abromaitis hit the visitors' ninth triple as Unicaja held a 46-48 lead at halftime. Bouteille had a fastbreak layup, a pair of jumpers and a three-pointer to open a 52-59 lead in the third quarter. Cline's second-chance bucket the only basket that feel in the last three and a half minutes of the third quarter, but the scoring picked up in the fourth. Bortolani and Brizuela traded triples before Brescia went on a 7-0 run during which Crawford hit a triple and Ristic scored a layup that put the hosts up 66-64 with 6:12 to go. Bouteille answered with a three-point play, and after Bortolani nailed a three-pointer, Brizuela's had another three-point play that had Unicaja ahead 69-70. Crawford and Bouteille traded triples before Brizuela scored a layup and a jumper to make it 72-77 inside 2 minutes. Bouteille's shot-clock-beating triple extended Unicaja's lead to 74-80 with 67 seconds left, enough for the visitors to hang onto victory.
Duo fuels Unicaja
Axel Bouteille and Dario Brizuela combined to score 29 of Unicaja's 35 points in the second half. Bouteille was scoreless in the first half, then had 9 of his team's 11 points in the third quarter. Bouteille added 9 more in the fourth, when Brizuela netted 11 of his own.
Brescia had only a two-point deficit at halftime despite Unicaja hitting 9 triples in the first 20 minutes and despite being outrebounded 9-21. The hosts didn't get a single offensive board until 2.4 seconds were left in the second quarter. It evened out in the second half, with Unicaja finishing with a 26-38 rebounding edge, including 4-12 on the offensive glass.
Eye on first place
Unicaja might clinch first place in Group B already on Friday if, in a rescheduled Round 7 game, Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (5-3) beats Boulogne Metropolitans 92 (5-3). If that does not happen, Unicaja can get it done with a win in Round 10.
Unicaja returns home to play ratiopharm Ulm (3-6) next week in Round 10, while Brescia will finish its campaign with a visit to Metropolitans.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020