Dragic is fourth-quarter hero in Unicaja's big win
In an intense battle that went down to the final minutes, Unicaja Malaga improved to 2-1 in Group E by downing Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul 89-75 at home on Friday. Unicaja grabbed its second consecutive win and dropped Fenerbahce to 0-3. Zoran Dragic paced the winners with 24 points. Ryan Toolson added 12, Carlos Suarez 11 while Vladimir Stimac scored 10 for Unicaja. Melih Mahmutoglu led Fenerbahce with 19 points on 5-of-5 three-point shooting. Linas Kleiza added 17 while Bo McCalebb scored 16 points and dished a Euroleague career-high 8 assists for the guests. Fran Vazquez, who did not finish the game due to a sprained ankle, led an 8-1 opening run. Luka Zoric stepped up for Fenerbahce and back-to-back three-pointers by Melih Mahmutoglu gave the guests a 19-22 edge early in the second quarter. Kleiza struck three times from downtown to keep Fenerbahce ahead, 37-39, at halftime. McCalebb and Mahmutoglu combined for 23 of Fenerbahce's 27 third-quarter points, allowing the guests to get a 62-66 edge after 30 minutes. Unicaja needed a go-to guy and found one in Dragic, who had 14 points in the final 10 minutes. He got plenty of help from Stimac and Suarez in a final 15-0 run that allowed Unicaja to collect a resounding win. Unicaja's first-ever Euroleague roster, which played Europe's top competition in 1995-96, was honored in a halftime ceremony.
First quarter: Fenerbahce overcomes slow start
Carlos Suarez got Unicaja going with a big basket in the low post, as the hosts powered the boards and were played very aggressive early in the game. Fenerbahce was held scoreless for more than three minutes as a wild tomahawk dunk by Fran Vazquez gave Unicaja a 4-0 lead. Gasper Vidmar split free throws, but Vazquez sank a turnaround jumper and a power basket by Nik Caner-Medley boosted Unicaja's margin to 8-1. Bojan Bogdanovic scored around the basket and a three-point play by Luka Zoric brought the guests as close as 8-6. Ryan Toolson banked in a mid-range jumper and even after Zoric stepped up for the guests with a layup, Suarez bettered that with a three-point play for a 13-8 Unicaja lead. Emir Preldzic hit foul shots and Zoric dunked to cause Unicaja to call timeout at 13-12. Caner-Medley scored down low before Bo McCalebb answered with a layup in transition. Zoran Dragic restored a 17-14 Unicaja edge. McCalebb scored again after a steal. Dragic sank free throws, but a three-pointer by Melih Mahmutoglu tied the game at 19-19, after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Kleiza's shooting streak puts guests ahead
Mahmutoglu struck again from downtown early in the second quarter to give Fenerbahce its first lead, 19-22. Jayson Granger stepped up with a driving basket but McCalebb scored in penetration for a 21-24 Fenerbahce edge. Mindaugas Kuzminskas shined with a fast break layup off a steal and a big basket by Granger put Unicaja back ahead, 25-24. Free throws by Rafa Hettsheimeir capped a 6-0 Unicaja run. A three-pointer by Linas Kleiza tied it at 27-27. Hettsheimeir answered from downtown but Kleiza nailed two more from beyond the arc, giving the guests a 3-point edge. Dragic joined the three-point shootout, but McCalebb fed Vidmar for a dunk that put Fenerbahce back ahead, 33-35. Caner-Medley downed a six-meter jumper before Vazquez left the floor with a sprained ankle. Vidmar took over with a put-back slam and a fast break layup by Bogdanovic boosted the guests' lead to 4. Stimac made free throws to bring Unicaja within 37-39 at halftime.
Third quarter: McCalebb, Mahmutoglu take over
Stimac ignited the crowd with a two-handed slam right after the break and a three-pointer by Toolson gave Unicaja a 42-39 edge. Kleiza stepped up with a dunk that Suarez bettered with a bomb from downtown. McCalebb shined with a lightning quick driving layup, but Caner-Medley matched him with a tip-in for a 47-43 Unicaja lead. Toolson hit a mid-range jumper, but Mahmutoglu sank his third triple to keep Fenerbahce within 49-46. McCalebb and Toolson traded baskets and a driving layup by Mahmutoglu made it a 1-point game. Hettsheimeir swished a close shot and erased Zoric's shot with a baseline jumper. Mahmutoglu followed a five-meter shot with a bomb from downtown to give Fenerbahce the lead, 55-57. McCalebb hit a long two-pointer and added a driving layup, causing Unicaja call timeout at 55-61. Stimac shined with a tip-in. Mahmutoglu and Dragic traded triples and another layup by McCalebb restored a 60-66 Fenerbahce edge. Free throws by Granger fixed the score at 62-66.
Fourth quarter: Dragic excels, leads Unicaja to big win
Dragic split free throws early in the fourth quarter, as Fenerbahce started to miss open shots. The guests were held scoreless for more than two minutes and a layup by Stimac made it a 1-point game. A wild driving layup by an unstoppable Dragic gave Unicaja the lead, 67-66, with seven minutes left. Kleiza tried to change things with a two-handed dunk, but Granger matched it with a jumper and Toolson added a big triple for a 72-68 Unicaja lead. Preldzic answered from downtown and a layup by Kleiza gave Fenerbahce a 72-73 edge. Dragic scored again before Kleiza shined with a reverse layup. A three-pointer by Suarez set ignited the crowd, 77-75, with four minutes to go. Dragic buried his own shot from downtown, causing Fenerbahce to call timeout at 80-75. Stimac banked in a floater in the paint and a huge slam by Dragic sealed the outcome, 84-75, with two minutes remaining. A three-pointer by Suarez allowed all Unicaja fans to celebrate a well-deserved home win!
Friday, January 17, 2014