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Unicaja maintain confidence with play-offs on the horizon

Dani Díez attempts to stop Baskonia's Jaka Blazic from scoring in yesterday's encounter.
Dani Díez attempts to stop Baskonia's Jaka Blazic from scoring in yesterday's encounter. / ACB Photo. I. Martín
  • Joan Plaza's side recorded a 79-75 victory over Baskonia, the side directly above them in the table, as the league enters its last week of fixtures before the play-offs

Unicaja made it five league victories in six matches following an away win at Baskonia on Sunday evening.

The hosts were always going to provide a physical challenge and they did not disappoint in that respect, with Tornike Shengelia, Johannes Voigtmann and Ádám Hanga overpowering Plaza's side in the early stages.

Thanks to Jamar Smith, Unicaja finally found an outlet and kept in touch with their hosts throughout the first quarter, which ended 23-23.

There was little to separate the sides in the second quarter as well, although the Malaga side did manage to take a one-point lead into half time thanks to their long-range shooting, despite baskets from Hanga and Shane Larkin.

Baskonia increased the pace of the game after the break and scored ten points inside the first six minutes of the third quarter, while conceding just two. Unicaja were still trailing by ten points with just three minutes of the quarter remaining, but eight points from Nemanja Nedović in the space of one-and-a-half minutes saw Plaza's men go into the final quarter leading 59-56.

The visitors then opened up a gap of their own early in the final quarter, before nine points without reply from the hosts looked to have put Unicaja in a spot of bother.

As on so many occasions this season, the Malaga side rose to the challenge and a couple of three-point baskets from Carlos Suárez, one of them from nearly nine metres, put his side into a 72-67 lead.

Baskonia persevered but Hanga missed a golden opportunity to draw the sides level with just ten seconds remaining, a miss he woud come to rue when Smith scored a basket that confirmed a 79-75 victory for Unicaja

Plaza's side will look to continue their form in the final two league games before the play-offs, with a visit to UCAM Murcia up next on Wednesday at 8pm.