2006-07Final FourTHIRD PLACE GAME
May 06, 2007 CET: 17:30
Local time: 18:30 OAKA
Marcus Brown - Unicaja Malaga - Final Four Athens 2007 - EB06

Unicaja capped its first Final Four appearance in style by edging Tau Ceramica 74-76

Marcus Brown's driving layup with 1.2 seconds remaining allowed Unicaja to cap its first trip to the Euroleague Basketball Final Four with a 74-76 victory over Tau Ceramica on Sunday at Athens Olympic Indoor Hall (OAKA). Unicaja trailed by 10 points at the end of the third quarter, but rode the momentum of Marko Tusek's outside shooting and Brown's clutch play down the stretch to come back and secure the victory. Brown and Tusek combined for 18 of Unicaja's 25 points in the decisive fourth quarter. Tusek finished with a game-high 18 on 5-of-6 three-point shooting, while Brown had 14. Carlos Jimenez added 10 and Pepe Sanchez ran the show with 8 assists. Igor Rakocevis led Tau with 16, Zoran added 15, Luis Scola 14, Pablo Prigioni 13 and Tiago Splitter finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds. The free-flowing game was even for much of the first half, at the end of which Tau led 40-35. Coach Bozidar Maljkovic's side pulled away in the third period behind strong minutes by Planinic and Prigioni, but Unicaja would have the last laugh down the stretch. Nevertheless, both teams have plenty to be proud of as they head back to Spain after reaching the Final Four – for Tau the third straight time and for Unicaja the first ever.

Unicaja struck first with a three-pointer by Marcus Faison. Scola fed Splitter for a power layup, which Prigioni followed with a driving basket for a 4-3 Tau lead. Points came the hard way, as both teams tried to recover from Friday's losses. Jiri Welsch buried a long two-pointer and then Jimenez hit one from downtown to put Unicaja back ahead, 5-8, after 5 minutes. Rakocevic joined the three-point festival, but Welsch answered with a driving layup. Fred House woke Tau up with a dunk after a midcourt steal and Rakocevic buried his second triple for another lead change, 13-10. Kostas Vasileadis and Alfonso Sanchez stepped on court, making their Final Four debuts, and Jimenez then made free throws for Unicaja. Scola stepped up with a put-back basket, but Vasileadis answered from downtown for a 15-16 Unicaja edge after 10 minutes.

Unicaja kept Alfonso Sanchez at the point guard spot early in the second quarter and he fed Tusek for a triple. Planinic answered the same way before House made free throws to put Tau back ahead, 20-19. Vasileadis finished a third-chance Unicaja offense with a power layup off the baseline. Scola scored down low for Tau, but Tusek bettered it with a three-pointer, good for a 22-24 Unicaja lead. Tau kept looking for Scola, who shined with a layup-plus-foul. A red-hot Vasileadis erased it with one from downtown. Planinic showed its talent with a driving layup, but Iñaki De Miguel followed a free throw with a five-meter shot to keep Unicaja ahead 27-30. Rakocevic scored in penetration, and even though Tusek canned another three-pointer, a layup-plus-foul by Planinic got Tau within 32-33. De Miguel paced Unicaja with another jumper, but Rakocevic fired in back-to-back three-pointers to help his team regain the lead, 38-35. Planinic corrected his own missed jumper to make it 40-35 at the end of a first half that saw six ties and 11 lead changes.

De Miguel opened the second half with a baseline jumper, as Tau now tried to open the floor with Mirza Teletovic at power forward. Prigioni buried a big triple in transition, but De Miguel scored in the paint to get Unicaja within 43-39. Rakocevic stepped up with a six-meter jumper and by the time Splitter hit an easy layup, Tau had its biggest margin yet, 47-39. Unicaja was not done, however, as Faison took over with a driving layup and Jimenez followed a triple with an easy basket to get his team within 1 on a 0-7 run. Splitter stepped up with a tip-in, but Pepe Sanchez answered from downtown to tie the game again. Prigioni replied the same way and then collected a pair of steals for Tau as Unicaja had lost its momentum. Sergi Vidal dunked after another midcourt steal and Planinic's elegant driving layup caused Unicaja to call timeout at 56-49. Unicaja went scoreless for 4 minutes while Scola capped a 9-0 run with an easy basket. Brown scored in penetration and Pietrus had a huge block on House, but a three-pointer by Planinic fixed the score at 61-51 after three quarters.

Tusek tried to ignite a Unicaja comeback with a triple early in the final period as Tau now had trouble finding Scola in the low post. The big man stepped up with a put-back layup, but an active Tusek answered with a basket-plus-foul to get Unicaja within 63-57. Brown shined with a driving layup only to see Splitter erase it with a big basket at the other end. Brown fired one in from downtown to bring Unicaja back to life at 65-62 with 6 minutes to go. Scola hit back with an acrobatic layup, and Unicaja called timeout down 67-62. Pepe Sanchez hit free throws, but Splitter stepped up with another put-back layup. Tusek buried his fifth three-pointer in as many attempts and now Tau called timeout at 69-67. Brown collected a steal and made free throws for a 69-69 tie with less than 3 minutes remaining. Both teams missed shots down the stretch until Brown hit a triple to complete the Unicaja comeback, 69-72, with 1:19 to go. Prigioni immediately answered from downtown to tie it at 72-72. Pietrus made a tip-in with 54.4 seconds remaining and Scola committed a turnover at the other end, but Brown missed a driving layup that allowed Prigioni to tie the game again, 74-74, with 8.4 seconds to go. Brown took over with the game-winning driving layup with 1.2 seconds to go allowing the Unicaja fans that traveled all the way to Athens to return home at the end of a historical Euroleague season with a smile in their faces.

Sunday, May 6, 2007
Javier Gancedo, Athens
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Attendance: 18363
By Quarter1234
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz15252113
Unicaja Malaga16191625
End of Quarter1234
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz15406174
Unicaja Malaga16355176
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 SCOLA, LUIS 33:00 14 6/11   2/5 3 2 5 2   2   1 3 5 12
5 PRIGIONI, PABLO 21:00 13 2/3 3/3           3 3     4   8
7 CILLA, JESUS DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8 RAKOCEVIC, IGOR 24:00 16 2/5 4/7     2 2   1 6     4 2 5
9 VIDAL, SERGI 31:00 2 1/2 0/1   1 3 4 5 1 1     2 2 9
10 PLANINIC, ZORAN 21:15 15 4/6 2/4 1/1 1 2 3 2         1 4 19
11 ERDOGAN, SERKAN DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
12 TELETOVIC, MIRZA 13:00   0/1 0/1     1 1             1  
14 PEKER, KAYA DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
20 ESLAVA, ARIEL DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
21 SPLITTER, TIAGO 33:45 10 5/8     5 3 8 3   3 1 1 1 2 16
32 HOUSE, FRED 23:00 4 1/3 0/1 2/2   1 1   3   1 1 2 2 5
Team           2 1 3               3
Totals 200:00 74 21/39 9/17 5/8 12 15 27 12 8 15 2 3 17 18 77
        53.8% 52.9% 62.5%
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Unicaja Malaga
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 SANCHEZ, PEPE 28:15 5 0/1 1/1 2/2   2 2 8 2 4     1 3 14
7 VASILEIADIS, KOSTAS 26:15 8 1/2 2/5   1 1 2     1         5
9 WELSCH, JIRI 18:45 4 2/4 0/2   1   1     4     1 2 -2
11 PIETRUS, FLORENT 20:00 2 1/4     4 1 5 1 1   2   2 1 7
15 DE MIGUEL, IGNACIO 20:00 9 4/6   1/2 1 2 3     1     3 1 6
17 TUSEK, MARKO 21:15 18 1/4 5/6 1/1 4 1 5 2         3 1 19
20 JIMENEZ, CARLOS 18:45 10 1/2 2/4 2/2 2 2 4 2 2 1 1 1 2 2 14
22 SANCHEZ, ALFONSO 11:45 1   0/2 1/2       1         1 3 1
24 FAISON, MARCUS 13:00 5 1/3 1/2   1 1 2 1 1 1     3 2 4
41 BROWN, MARCUS 22:00 14 3/7 2/4 2/2   1 1 2 1     1 2 2 11
Team           1 3 4               4
Totals 200:00 76 14/33 13/26 9/11 15 14 29 17 7 12 3 2 18 17 83
        42.4% 50% 81.8%
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Head Coaches

Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
"We can't be happy with our game in Athens at this Final Four because we didn't manage to have the individual or team level that we always have. Why? That is a very difficult question that I won't answer now because it will take a long time. We need to take some time and think about it. Unicaja played slow and put our players to sleep. we committed to many turnovers and made errors that made no sense. We had some good results because they made some turnovers in the first half. in the second, we improved our defense and made more steals. We played more calmly and we were more than 10 points ahead. They got some points off the bench and made a lot of shots. Now we have to keep our good work and play good basketball until the end of the season. We can surely play better. We played with a lot of pressure. We'll have to make a serious analysis so the team will get the mental and individual strength that is important for the future. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. We are a family and when you don't play well everybody suffers."
Unicaja Malaga
“Sixteen years after I reached my first Final Four, I win thits place. Maybe I will reach the final in 16 years and with the Euroleague in 32. I want to congratulate my players for their effort. Someone just told me that when you see the Malaga fans' reaction to this game, you understand why you play a third-place game. I think the most important thing is that my players showed their pride by playing even when the motivation was not there. I want to congratulate them. I think they played a great Final Four. They stayed close most of the game against the champions and stayed close again and won tonight. So lets let our fans enjoy this and our players leave the Final Four with a sweet taste in their mouths.”

“To play very well is subjective. I'll give you a soccer example. If Liverpool and Milan have 100 potential and they play at 50, it is horrible. But if Espanyol and I don't know, Parma, play at 50, it is great. So it's a matter of personal taste and potential. You give what you can give, you gotta try to give your best always. But what is your best? Is it Panathinaikos best? CSKA best? I feel that we played over our level for most of the games. I think there is no basketball fan that could expect that we can play at this level. So from my perspective, we played very well.”


Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
"We had a 10-point lead at the end of the third quarter, but they were more motivated than us, which happened to be decisive to win the game. We had three very good seasons in the Euroleague, but never had the luck to play well in the Final Four. There are four tough teams, very good teams and only one team can win. We still have the chance to win the Spanish League and the team has to recover from this."
Unicaja Malaga
“It was the first Final Four for Unicaja and I was very happy when we beat Barcelona to get here. We had a great chance to beat CSKA Moscow in the semifinals, we really believe we had a very good chance to make it to the final. We did well tonight, managed to finish third and I hope we can return to another Final Four. This game-winning shot is very important for Marcus Brown, as he came off of an injury and we need him to play well. It is not good only for him, but for the team.”
Unicaja Malaga
“Anytme you step put on the court you have to respect yourself, your team and the game of basketball. It was a little difficult to get motivated in the beginning, but like I said, you have to respect the game. We made some open shots in the fourth quarter and that was the difference from Friday. We shot 53% from the three-point line today, and I think we shot 27% on Friday. We had the chance to hit a couple of three-pointers to try to stop their run. Given all our injuries, to still have the chance to try to win the Euroleague title is great. All these guys played hard, having the chance to win down the stretch. The win makes you feel a little bit better about yourself, it is always good to win. Winning cures a lot of pains, and it is a learning experience because we might have to face this team in the Spanish playoffs."
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