With high energy from start to finish, Unicaja restored its status as a Group C contender with an overwhelming 82-60 home win against Montepaschi Siena on Thursday. Both teams are now 2-2 in the group standings and part of a tie for third place, but Unicaja was dominant in all aspects at home on Thursday. Jorge Garbajosa led the winners with 19 points and got help from everywhere. Stephane Risacher followed with 15 points, Daniel Santiago put down 14 and Marcus Brown 13 for the winners, who made 22 of their 24 free throws and had 13 steals. For Montepaschi, which trailed throughout, Marcelo Nicola had 16 points off the bench and Rimantas Kaukenas 13, but no one else reached double figures.
Defenses ruled the early going, with Stephane Risacher's high shot in the paint the only points that fell among a series of steals, blocks and forced turnovers in the first 3 minutes.. Woodward finally got Montepaschi on the board with a turnaround jumper. Next, he fed Eze for a dunk, but Garbajosa hit the game's first triple and then drove untouched for a layup as Unicaja stayed ahead 7-4. Bodies were hitting the floor and shots the rim until Woodward finished a fastbreak that made it 8-6. Carlos Cabezas of Unicaja made 2 free throws while Woodward missed both of his, then Garbajosa punished the mistake with a fastbreak triple that put the hosts in front 13-6. Brown joined in with a running one-hander, then a triple-chance possession ended with Garbajosa sinking a hook to take Unicaja to a 17-9 advantage after 10 minutes.
Marcelo Nicola, whose first basket finished the previous quarter, added another for Montepaschi to start the second. Amid continuing tough defense, only he scored for Montepaschi while Unicaja got good news when previously injured Walter Herrmann came in and scored to make it 21-13. Andrea Pecile found a rare basket for the visitors, but missed the free throw that came with it. At the other end, several offensive rebounds rewarded Florent Pietrus and Garbajosa with free trhows that pushed the lead to 25-15. Montepaschi seemed to figure something out as Pecile, Eze and Rimantas Kaukenas combined on a 0-6 run that made it 27-21, but then came Unicaja to ssay no. Boom, boom, boom came Pepe Sanchez, Herrmann and Brown with triples from the arc to open a 36-21 gap. Montepaschi did what it cold with the last two baskets of the half to trim Unicaja's advantage to 36-25 at the break.
Nicola banked in a triple after the half to signal that Montepaschi wanted to get back in the game. Daniel Santiago answered with a hook shot for Unicaja, but then he fouled Kaukenas, who sank both free throws. Vladimer Boisa's dunk for Montepaschi was answered by a wild drive and added free throw by Garbajosa for a new double-digit lead, 43-32. Nicola struck again from the arc as the guests drew within 45-37. Woodward's free throws off an offensive annd deep two-pointer got Montepaschi even closer, 47-41. Garbajosa and Brown, with a triple, got 5 points back in a row to calm the hosts. Then Risacher and Cabezas kept it going by sharing Unicaja's next 11 points as the lead ballooned to 63-45 before the quarter ended 63-47 on a Montepaschi basket.
Right into the final quarter, the story continued to be Unicaja's suffocating defense. With an early dunk, Kaukenas tried to rally the guests, but it was their only points besides a free throw for a full 6 minutes. The Unicaja defenders challenged everything and seemed to take all rebounds by force. Rischer and Santiago took care of what little scoring Unicaja needed to vault ahead 72-50. There was not chance the home team defense was going to slow down now, so the fans in Malaga were left to enjoy the finish of a strong victory that put their team back among the contenders in Group C.
Thursday, November 24, 2005