What a pity. The always reliable Unicaja, the one that when playing at home is almost indestructible, the one that almost never fails, had a bad day at the worst possible time. Anxiety got the better of him and left him without a European final. And that the team had one last attack to overcome the game in extremis, but Perry’s forced triple on the buzzer did not find the prize from the basket net of a Telekom Bonn that is a fair finalist and that the FIBA trophy will be played on Sunday against Hapoel Jerusalem, which took Lenovo Tenerife ahead in the first semifinal.
With everything up front, Unicaja was not able to beat a rocky rival, who played with very clear ideas, who did not complicate their lives and who offered an impenetrable image, led by a TJ Shorts who is a tad taller he would be a top player in the very Euroleague.
Unicaja’s season is being so good, so good, so good that this defeat, no matter how hard it is, cannot blur it. But the downturn is true that it is siderahe. There was not a single compositor at Carpena who was waiting for the final outcome of the game. It is true that from the very day of the draw we all knew that Telekom Baskets Bonn was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But Nobody could imagine a “carpenazo” like the one signed by the Germans.
Almost nothing went well for Unicaja this time. He had a hard time scoring, he couldn’t run with that usual joy, he found no players in “on mode” for many minutes in a row and he became desperate as the minutes passed. All that being said, if Perry hits the last shot…
It is very easy to say now that the last attack was not well managed. That they should have looked for a 2-point basket or divided the ball to Brizuela so that he could shoot it or penetrate and look for a free kick… The fact is that Perry, one of the team’s leaders in attack throughout the season, threw it at him. He didn’t put it in and that’s where the European dream ended.
A very tight game
The game did not have the expected script. Only the first five minutes were adjusted to what Unicaja, Ibon Navarro and Carpena wanted. And it is that Unicaja entered the game better than Telekom Baskets Bonn. Neither the environment nor the pressure could with the greens at the start, who were up 9 with 2.57 left to go in the first quarter, with Brizuela unleashed. But 11-20 was a mirage. The rival was not discouraged, as they reorganized after a timeout with a margin to balance the forces at minute 10 (22-22). From that time on, everything changed.
It was difficult for Unicaja to impose their usual rhythm, the shots did not go in, the German team grew based on a great defense and had its first moment of glory with the +7, 24-31, 6:17 from the break. Ibon Navarro asked for time to vary his plan. But there was no reaction from an unknown green team, out of ideas and overwhelmed by the energy of their rival. A triple by the Chilean Herrera, after an offensive rebound, gave them a 9-point lead, 29-38. Playing simple and direct basketball, Telekom Bonn made Unicaja and Carpena suffer.
The 31-41 break did a lot of damage after the Greens only scored 9 points in the entire quarter. A threatening marker that forced a radical change in the second half… or else the very final on Sunday would be a chimera.
A triple by Herrera activated the alarm light, 33-46, with just over two minutes played in the third quarter. With 13 down, Unicaja understood that either they defended or it was impossible to come back. He tightened the team behind, loaded the attack rebound to have second options that gave the team air. The improvement was seen on the scoreboard. Unicaja got to six, 42-48, midway through the third act of the match. The Carpena went crazy. The fans pulled their own in a while exchanging baskets. A three-pointer from Osetkowski put Unicaja very close (50-54), although at minute 30 the lead was again +7 for the rocky team from Bonn, 50-57.
Without success in shots of 3 released from those that almost always enter, the attempt to come back was complicated by the passage of attacks and defenses. Tuomas Iisalo stopped the match 7.59 minutes from the final horn at 52-58, after a dunk from David Kravish.
The team continued to row, working piecemeal to equalize forces, but found themselves facing a rival who did not give any ease and who never wrinkled. The Greens were placed at 1, 57-58, with 5.42 ahead. Not even so did the legs of the Germans tremble. They endured the downpour and faced the final 3 minutes with an 8-minute lead, 58-66.
The illusion of the team and Carpena ended with the last blows of Shorts, Herrera and company. A triple by Perry at 30.1 minutes from the end, 63-67, was the beginning of that end so agonizing that it ended at 67-69, after two missed free throws by Shorts and the triple on Perry’s buzzer.
It will be very hard to play third and fourth place against Tenerife on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. The idea was to play against them that day, but three hours later. It is what it is. The fans are sure to respond and are at the top of their game, no matter how much the pain of this defeat now seems almost incurable. We have to keep going.