Unicaja defeat leaders Real Madrid

Fogg (left), Alberto Díaz (centre) and Musli (right) thank the fans after the victory.
Fogg (left), Alberto Díaz (centre) and Musli (right) thank the fans after the victory. / Salvador Salas
  • Alberto Díaz and Nemanja Nedovic inspired an 82-78 win for the home side

Unicaja put two straight defeats to Gran Canaria and Cedevita Zagreb behind them by beating league leaders Real Madrid 82-78 on Sunday evening.

The result gave Unicaja a much needed boost ahead of the Copa del Rey quarter-final against F.C. Barcelona Lassa on Friday night.

The first quarter, and in particular the first ten minutes, saw plenty of scores for both sides, as the league leaders went into the second quarter 21-19 up. However, Joan Plaza's side stepped up their game in the second quarter as they fundamentally changed the game by increasing their quality of play defensively.

Alberto Díaz in particular was exceptional as he marked Luka Dončić, who has taken the headlines after his excellent recent displays for Madrid, out of the game, to the extent where coach Pablo Laso had no option but to take the Slovenian off.

Díaz then went on to score two three-point baskets to give the hosts a 35-28 lead, but Madrid's Sergio Llull's points ensured Unicaja only went into half-time 40-36 up.

Nemanja Nedović in action against Real Madrid.

Nemanja Nedović in action against Real Madrid. / Salvador Salas

Unlike in previous games, the break did not result in a loss in concentration for Plaza's side, who instead managed to score 11 points without reply to give themselves 51-36 lead. The visitors themselves only managed a single basket before Plaza took a near fatal decision to take off Dejan Musli and Nemanja Nedović, which caused the Malaga side's attack to collapse and put even more pressure on their defence.

That pressure showed as Real Madrid scored 15 points and conceded just four as they reduced the deficit to just five points going into the final quarter.

Unicaja managed to regain their defensive composure, whilst Jeff Brooks and Nedović gave the hosts much needed impetus going forward. The former managed to score 16 points and give his best performance for Malaga since his arrival in the summer, whilst two three-pointers from the latter gave Plaza's side a 71-59 lead and forced his opposite number to call timeout.

Despite dragging themselves back into the game by scoring another six points, Madrid never seemed totally comfortable in possession against a staunch Unicaja rearguard. The hosts then seemed to have killed off the game when a basket from Nedović and a three-pointer from Adam Waczyński put Unicaja 78-69 ahead with just a couple of minutes remaining.

However the hosts relaxed a little too much and allowed Real Madrid to provide a little scare for Unicaja when a score from the visitors made it 79-75 to Plaza's side. However, two free throws from Nedović ensured victory for the Malaga side and inflicted a defeat on Real Madrid for just the fourth time this season.