Saturday, December 2, 2023

Unicaja 97-74 Lenovo: Carpena flies and Málaga dreams

He Unicaja is once again, officially, one of the 4 best teams in the Endesa League. The greens took advantage of their first “match point” this Thursday in June to repeat their victory against Lenovo Tenerife and close the quarterfinal match between the two with a resounding 2-0 that prevents any kind of debate about who is better of the two at this point in the season.

It had been six years since Unicaja had rubbed shoulders with the league jet in the “Top 4”. Too much time in which the team has given very few joys to its fans and even flirted with sporting situations that is better not to mention. Because, do you remember when the direct rivals of the greens were Monbus Obradoiro, Fuenlabrada or MoraBanc Andorra?… Well, not that many months ago.

It has great merit to be once again among the creme de la creme of the Endesa League. Its natural site? Well, due to sporting merits shown in the last 8 months, it is evident that yes, but it is also true that with the four Euroleagues -Real Madrid, Barça, Baskonia and Valencia- in addition to the mighty Lenovo, Joventut and Gran Canaria fighting for the same thing, well being in “semis” is to celebrate with fireworks (like the ones on the boat the other day).

What a season this team is giving us! Wonderful! This 2022/2023 should never end. This Thursday was once again an outstanding match for the Ibon Navarro boys. It is true that the team gave their rival the first quarter, in which they were a shadow of themselves, but from minute 11 on they began to play basketball and he gave a new clinic on how to defend and how to attack a Lenovo that had no chance to match the play off and provoke the third party.

There is little more to say about the spell of Carpena compared to any past game. The “green tide” has turned this course into a plus that always appears when its players need it most. The palace was filled to the brim for the “battle” against Lenovo and the almost 11,000 who attended the event were a fundamental factor in waking up the team in the 11th minute and for the quick resolution of the series. As long as the team continues to play in this atmosphere, few rivals will leave Malaga alive, even though we are in playoff time and only the best of the best remain. Barça is warned… or Valencia.

There were two parties. One that lasted 10 minutes, which was very bad; and another 30 minute one, which was outstanding. And it is that the Lenovo was a cyclone at startup. He scored three triples without a miss in his first three attacks and forced Unicaja to always go against the flow on the scoreboard. Nothing to do with the image of the canaries in those first minutes with the indolent appearance shown in the first game in La Laguna. Energy, activity, rebound… CB Canarias went 9, 13-22, at the end of the first quarter. Bad team on both sides of the track in those first 10 minutes.

Darío Brizuela, in an attack action. Alex Zea

Radical change in the second quarter

Everything changed from then on. Unicaja woke up from the first attack of the second act. Ibon Navarro’s men tightened in defense, hit from 6.75 and turned the score around, 27-23. The match turned into a guerrilla war, in hand-to-hand fighting in which the Greens felt more comfortable than their rival. And from there…

Vidorreta bet on Shermadini and Jaime Fernández. But the cyclone was now green and purple and there was no longer any possible antidote. Unicaja liked running, rebounding, defending, scoring… It was crazy. Up to 16 up the compositors left in a pavilion delivered to their team. After a 37-14 run in those second 10 minutes, the game went to halftime with a more than interesting 50-36.

Doornekamp did not want to give up, but he was the only one who resisted the green and purple machine, which continued to devastate his rival. The advantage went above 20 in a very comfortable third quarter for the home team. The rival recovered some margin in the final sprint of the quarter and the score reached the 30th minute with 76-57.

Unicaja followed suit in the last quarter. He gave the game rhythm and punished every mistake by the rival, especially scoring from the perimeter. The last minutes were an absolute party in a Carpena already thinking about the semifinals. The final 97-74 says it all. There’s no more.

Now we have to wait for a rival. If Barça win this Friday in Valencia, the Catalans will be semifinalists. If Valencia balances the series, there will be a third game at the Palau. Unicaja waits quietly. Until Wednesday the 7th the “semis” will not start. Now it’s time to enjoy.


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