Wednesday’s match was worrying for a number of reasons. Firstly, for its direct influence on the Eurocup table, in which it will now be difficult for Unicaja to come out on top. Secondly, it showed that the Malaga outfit still do not have the necessary composure as a team to compete against a rival such as Valencia, who have beaten them once again at the Palacio de los Deportes.
They did so thanks to a comprehensive collapse from the hosts after the break. A third quarter in which they lost 9-27 left them incapable of victory, with no time to react.
Unicaja started in a wholly different manner to the one in which they ended, dominating the play and acting as a wall in defence. After five minutes they found themselves 14-4 up, having only allowed their opponents six shots. The intensity took its toll as Nedovic and Díaz were given a break, allowing the visitors to close the gap to 23-19 at the end of the first quarter.
Plaza recalled Díaz to the court but the match had already swung in favour of Valencia, who took advantage of Unicaja’s mistakes to bring the scores to 32-31. However, with Musli well guarded, the hosts resorted to three-pointers, with an inspired Jamar Smith scoring three in five minutes to end the half with the scores at 48-41.
What happened after the break was incomprehensible. Unicaja went six and a half minutes without scoring. Valencia scored 13 points without reply to take the lead at 48-54. Waczynski eventually scored a pair of three-pointers but the reaction was non-existent. The pair of Kravtsov and Thomas were completing on top of Unicaja’s centres, with a three-pointer from Sato closing a horrific quarter for the hosts in which they now trailed 57-68.
Unicaja had no response, with baskets coming in dribs and drabs. Although they brought the scoreline to within five points thanks to some good defending, Valencia comfortably held on to win 70-78.