With just over a month to go until the start of the Copa del Rey, for which Unicaja secured their mathematical qualification two weeks ago, the Malaga side showed all their shortcomings on Real Betis’ court in a match that demonstrated the extent to which they must improve in the coming weeks if they want to be competitive.
With Musli sidelined due to bruising on his left quadriceps, Unicaja’s inside game was completely non-existent. Without him, Unicaja do not have a plan B. Lacking an inside game, the visitors dedicated themselves to long-range efforts from Smith, Fogg and Nedovic. However, with only 7 from 37 hitting the mark, defeat seemed an inevitability.
Tabak, Betis' coach, planned his tactics to perfection, with his defence pressing tightly and his attack tearing apart Unicaja, who were trailing for the entire match, aside from one moment in the first quarter.
The match started disastrously for the away side, who found themselves down 7-0 almost immediately. They recovered through an inspirational Smith and ended the first half with the scoreline at 17-16. However, the situation got worse in the second quarter as the side missed simple three-pointers and free throws and were second best in terms of rebounds. Unicaja were only able to notch up nine points as they headed into the second half trailing 32-25.
Despite having the entire second half to mount a comeback, Unicaja again failed to make a real impact in the third quarter. Real Betis hit the target from distance and the quarter ended even, with no difference in the home side’s advantage with the scores at 50-43.
It was only in the final quarter that there was any form of reaction, with Fogg scoring a three-pointer and Suárez stepping up to the plate with four consecutive points. With just four minutes to go until the end, the Malaga side had brought the game back level at 61-61. However, the home side did not lose their composure, with Triguero and Stojanovski securing the victory by taking advantage of the poor Unicaja defence. A forgettable match for the away side, who left a poor impression in Seville.