Unicaja rallies past Efes for 5th straight road win
Unicaja Malaga grabbed its fifth consecutive road win in Top 16 Group E by rallying to down Anadolu Efes Istanbul 64-70 on Thursday. Unicaja improved to 7-6 in Group E to remain alive, but was eliminated from the playoffs race when Panathinaikos Athens beat Brose Baskets Bamberg later on tonight. Efes dropped to 9-4, has already qualified to the playoffs and faces a big showdown against Real Madrid in the Spanish capital next week. Marcus Williams paced the winners with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Luka Zoric added 21 points and 8 rebounds while Txemi Urtasun got 12 points for Unicaja. Jordan Farmar led Efes with 13 points. Kerem Gonlum added 11 for the hosts. Zoric had 11 points in the first quarter to help Unicaja to get a 14-19 lead late in the first quarter. Efes used a 13-1 run that Farmar capped with a three-pointer for a 27-20 Efes lead. Urtasun and Fran Vazquez kept Unicaja within 33-28 at halftime. Williams led a 0-9 run that allowed Unicaja to regain the lead, 33-37, right after the break. Sasha Vujacic and Farmar kept Efes within 47-50 after 30 minutes. Ermal Kuqo and Gonlum shined early in the fourth quarter to make it 60-55 with four minutes to go. Zoric and Williams combined for all the points in a 3-13 run, which allowed Unicaja to snatch a big road win.
First quarter: Zoric puts Unicaja ahead
Unicaja used a big lineup from the start with Andy Panko at small forward. Dusko Savanovic got Efes going with a three-pointer, but a jump hook by Fran Vazquez and a close basket by Zoric gave Unicaja its first lead, 3-4. Jamon Lucas finished a long, two-chance Efes offense with a driving layup, which Semih Erden followed with a close basket for a 7-4 Efes lead. Zoric split free throws and a fast break layup by Zoran Dragic tied it at 7-7. Farmar struck from downtown before Zoric banked in a running jumper. Foul shots by Erden made it a 3-point game. Unicaja kept running its offense through Zoric, who followed free throws with a turnaround jumper for a 12-13 lead. Zoric scored down low, but a layup by Kerem Gonlum kept Efes within 14-15. Williams buried a six-meter jumper and an off-balance basket by Dragic boosted the guests' lead to 14-19. Stanko Barac dunked to fix the score at 16-19 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Efes uses 13-1 run to take lead
Lucas shined with a fast break layup early in the second quarter, as Efes improved its defense with he and Kerem Tunceri at both guards. Unicaja was held scoreless for more than three minutes until Augusto Cesar Lima split free throws. Efes kept missing open shots and the game turned into a physical battle. Efes coach Oktay Mahmuti brought Farmar and Josh Shipp back on court to find better options on offense. Gonlum made free throws and Shipp fed Farmar for an easy basket that put Efes back ahead, 22-20. Gonlum hit more foul shots and a three-pointer by Farmar caused Coach Jasmin Repesa call timeout at 27-20, after a 13-1 run. Urtasun stepped up with a six-meter jumper and soon added a big triple before Efes stopped the game at 27-25. Dragic capped a 0-6 run with a free throw and an alley-oop slam by Vazquez kept the guests within 29-28. Tunceri made free throws and a buzzer-beater jumper by Lucas fixed the halftime score at 33-28.
Third quarter: Williams soars, put Unicaja back ahead
Zoric took over with a big basket immediately after the break and Williams added a stop-and-pop three-pointer that tied it at 33-33. Efes faced trouble with Erden returning to the bench with 4 fouls. Williams followed a close basket with an acrobatic layup that gave Unicaja a 33-37 lead, after a 0-9 run. Efes was held scoreless for more than three minutes until Farmar buried a three-pointer. A red-hot Williams answered from downtown, Lucas tried to change things with a put-back basket, but Urtasun did even better with a wild triple, which caused Efes to stop the game at 38-43. Vujacic and Vazquez traded layups, as Efes brought Ermal Kuqo to improve its offense. He split free throws, but Urtasun sank a floating jumper for a 41-47 Unicaja lead. Shipp nailed a three-pointer and a baseline jumper by Vazquez gave Unicaja some fresh air at 44-49. Panko split free throws before a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Vujacic kept Efes within 47-50 through three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Williams, Zoric shine, keep Unicaja alive with victory
Both teams struggled to score early in the fourth quarter until Farmar made free throws. Williams fed Zoric for a reverse layup that Gonlum erased with a put-back basket, which kept Efes within 51-52 with seven minutes to go. Tunceri nailed a five-meter baseline jumper that put the hosts back ahead. Unicaja could not get Zoric involved and tried to find other options on offense. Williams split free throws, but a corner three-pointer by Kuqo gave Efes the lead, 56-53. Tunceri and Zoric traded mid-range jumpers and a one-handed alley-oop dunk by Gonlum made it 60-55 with four minutes left. Urtasun made free throws and a reverse layup by Zoric kept Unicaja within 60-59. Gonlum split free throws and a three-pointer by Williams provided another lead change, 61-62. Erden scored down low, Zoric shined with a second-chance layup and grabbed a key offensive rebound that allowed Williams to take over with a reverse layup. Savanovic missed free throws with 38 seconds left and a driving basket by Williams sealed the outcome, 63-68. Efes kept trying but Unicaja cruised to another road win.
Thursday, March 28, 2013