Unicaja will never have an easier option to beat Real Madrid at the WiZink Center than this Sunday. The rival showed up for the event plagued by casualties, without 7 regulars on their roster: Sergio Rodríguez, Rudy Fernández, Adam Hanga, Mario Hezonja, Gabi Deck, Vincent Poirier and Edy Tavares. But Unicaja gave up defending, they weren’t as brilliant in attack as on other days, they didn’t compete as they usually do and that version of Real Madrid Castilla, led by a great Yabusele and with an extreme outside success from almost all his players who got up from beyond the 6.75 line, he ended the 11-game winning streak of a team led by Ibon Navarro who didn’t know… or didn’t want to.
The truth is that the team was unknown in Madrid. It was possibly one of the worst versions of Unicaja of the entire season. Navarro never found an ideal five on the court capable of executing the game plan necessary to win his rival. The greens were always behind from the second quarter and without any ability to react to the “carries” of a Real Madrid that did not play the game of the year either.
Within the bad image and the bad result, two positive things. The most important, that there was no injury. With only 5 days to go before the BCL Final Four, any bad blow, any muscle problem, any unforeseen slip would have been lethal for the four-way event next weekend. Also It was very positive to see Alberto Díaz and Darío Brizuela in short dresses again. The point guard was seen to be very lacking in rhythm and far from his best set-up, but sweating again was necessary and at WiZink he had that day to recover sensations. Darío did not make the game of the year either, but he was more “plugged in” than his teammate.
Is defeat good thinking about the Final Four of the Basketball Champions League?… Well, you’ll have to hope so. It is a reading seeing the glass half full, but the truth is that it was a day with everything facing to win… and it was lost forcefully.
almost always in tow
Aware of their superior resources in the face of the multiple casualties from Real Madrid, Unicaja wanted to set a high game pace from minute 1. Yabusele was the reference point for Chus Mateo’s men in attack, while Yankuba Sima imposed his physique in the area to contribute 8 points in the blink of an eye. Good news with the return to the field of Alberto Díaz, which will surely be important for that Final Four next week. Despite a +6 from the greens, the game reached minute 10 with maximum equality 24-24.
Unicaja suffered in the second quarter. The green attack lost its effectiveness, especially in the outside shot, Musa was a headache and Real Madrid took advantage of all those things to escape a couple of times with an 8 lead. Ibon Navarro moved his bench, but never found the antidote for his rival. The defense was conspicuous by his absence, although his dominance on the rebound allowed Unicaja to avoid major problems at half-time: 49-46, with Brizuela also back after suffering a knee injury.
Two consecutive three-pointers from Yabusele at the start of the second half put Madrid at +9: 55-46. With the alarm light on, the best version of Osetkowski appeared, who with his baskets of all colors brought Unicaja back to the game, 61-59. A free kick from Barrerio tied the game: 71-71, with just over a minute left in the quarter. Llull went into a boil with a triple, a basket of 2 and a 2+1 consecutively to reach the 30th minute with 79-74.
The script followed the same path at the beginning of the last quarter. Unicaja made the rubber, but without ever being able to get ahead. Musa, Williams-Goss, Yabusele… there was always a response from Madrid to each green attempt. Navarro kept moving the bench, but without finding the magic formula to topple a Madrid that closed the game with a basket from Goss at 2:06: 98-86. In the end, 102-90. Little more to add.
Next Friday, from 8:30 p.m., Unicaja-Telekom Bonn. It will be in the semifinal of the Final Four of the Basketball Champions League in Málaga 2023 at the Martín Carpena. Surely that day and at that time we will see Unicaja again. Because otherwise…