Sunday, December 3, 2023

Unicaja-Obradoiro: Let the next one happen (87-75)

Joventut, Falco, Baskonia, Le Mans, Breogán and… Obradoiro. Unicaja beat the Galician Monbus this Saturday at the Martín Carpena, adding its sixth straight victory, sits among the top four in the Endesa League and sends signals to whoever it may concern that this team has reached a point where it does not even need to play well to win its games. It is enough for him to mature and mature his rival until he can no longer take it and takes out the white flag.

On the day this League ends, no one will remember whether the Obradoiro day was prettier or uglier. The only thing that will count for the play off for the title will be the result. And that was what it had to be: a victory, the fourth league in a row. Nothing else.

El Unicaja – Liga Endesa Workshop, in images Gregorio Marrero

Irregular match

This time it was 40 minutes of irregular play. It was not a super version of the green team, which found a rival that did not give up and held out until the last quarter (61-61, with 8.32 left). And that says a lot in its favor, because it is not easy. Also, because his franchise player, Scrubb, was very well supported by the green defense.

Unicaja was a very favorite against a rival with losses and who, outside of their environment at Fontes do Sar, never gives their best version. But he sweated it out. Two proper names: Kameron Taylor, who had an explosive end to the second quarter and Will Thomas, who when the score was most tight, in the last act, gave the umpteenth lesson on how, when and where to play.

The truth is that Unicaja has changed radically in the last three weeks. It is once again a recognizable team for its people. He defends, works on rebounding, runs whenever he can… It is true that he lacks continuity in his game, but he does more things well each game and the best thing is that there is still obvious room for improvement.

El Unicaja – Liga Endesa Workshop, in images Gregorio Marrero

Carpena once again did his part. He wildly applauded Pepe Pozas in the run-up to the game, when the man from Malaga was honored in the center of the court for his recent retirement from professional basketball. And from there, he gave himself to his players. It was kind of cold at first, but when he warmed up… Zero doubts also with the commitment of a “green tide” that started the season tran-trans (like the team), but is already on fire.

Good green staging

Unicaja started the game very focused. Good in attack and tough in defense, he surpassed his rival at the beginning, 15-4. Obradoiro found a man on the bench, the Lithuanian Blazevic, his main scoring support. He led a comeback that Djedovic prevented with 9 points in the blink of an eye. The score at the end of the first quarter was 19-16.

Ibon opted for Carter as the baseman after just over two minutes of the second act. The team had problems circulating the ball and scoring regularly. The rival took advantage of it to take the lead, 24-26, at 5:11 before the break. Bad minutes for a Unicaja lost and without ideas.

Sima controls the ball. Gregorio Marrero

Then Kameron Taylor showed up. At 28-33, he came to the rescue with three strong actions under the Galician ring and a huge three-pointer. 9 points in a row. Carpena, somewhat cold, got into the game. Between one thing and another, the score changed: 37-34, already within the last minute of the first half. At half-time, everything to be decided, but with another perspective: 42-34.

Kravish, who did not have his best afternoon, made the third and fourth fouls as soon as the third act started. A problem. The “Obra” once again breathed into the composer’s neck, 50-48. The game became a back-and-forth exchange of baskets that kept the score very balanced, although always with Unicaja ahead.

Will Thomas Moment

A couple of good defenses culminated with baskets caused delirium in the stands and forced Obradoiro to call a timeout. At 59-52 it was a breath of fresh air, with just over 2 minutes to close the quarter. The match reached minute 30 with 61-56. A three-pointer by Muñoz made it 61-61. New match, but now only 8.32 minutes. At the key moment, the equipment was activated. Will Thomas called for the ball and everything flowed. In a magical minute and a half: 70-62. It was the beginning of the sentence. The team has already taken the lead and hasn’t stopped. The final score: 87-75.

Osetkowski, during the game. Gregorio Marrero

Peristeri, next rival

There is not much room this time for celebrations. This Tuesday the first round of the Basketball Champions League ends in Group A. Vasilis Spanoulis’ Peristeri arrives in Malaga at 8:30 p.m.. A match that could mathematically place Unicaja on the verge of qualifying for the next phase. For now, it’s time to enjoy the sixth in a row and dream of the seventh, looking askance at what the rivals of this exciting ACB do this Sunday.


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