Pedro Luis Alonso
Monday, 18 September 2023, 14:17
It was great while it lasted but ultimately Unicaja's dream of lifting the Supercopa Endesa for the first time came to an end on Sunday night despite showing remarkable tenacity in the final against Real Madrid.
The Malaga side's style of basketball was captivating, and their resilience was equally praiseworthy but with key players missing to injury, it was an uneven matchup in Murcia against the reigning EuroLeague champions.
Unicaja, who qualified for the tournament as Copa del Rey winners, initially adhered to their trademark strategy of fast-paced play and pick-and-roll offence. But in spite of struggling at the free-throw line, Real Madrid excelled and led 17-21 in the first quarter.
And that gap began to widen in the second. Unicaja, playing their second game in less than 24 hours, found it increasingly challenging to keep up the pace and Real Madrid scored eight consecutive points to giving themselves a 31-44 lead at halftime.
Could Unicaja pull off a miraculous turnaround? An unwavering determination has defined them in recent months, and they demonstrated this resilience with an impressive comeback in the third quarter.
Through sheer grit, an improved defensive effort and significant contributions from Carter, Taylor, and especially Thomas, Unicaja managed to take a remarkable 56-54 lead. It was an unexpected twist, but Real Madrid quickly recovered with two plays from Hezonja and Tavares, finishing the quarter at 56-61.
But Unicaja continued to push Real Madrid and two three-pointers, one from Osetkowski and another from Djedovic, even gave them a three-point advantage (69-66) with seven minutes left.
However, what followed was an onslaught from the side pursuing their fifth consecutive Supercopa title. Real Madrid embarked on an 11-0 run until the score reached 69-77 with 3:55 remaining, effectively extinguishing Unicaja's hopes.
Unicaja, continued to hang in until the final minute, but Tavares' spectacular dunk sealed Real Madrid's 14th Supercopa title (81-88).
La Voz de Cádiz
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