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Kendrick Perry in disbelief at the end of the game. Salvador Salas
Unicaja's title run comes to an end
Basketball

Unicaja's title run comes to an end

Despite the Malaga basketball team having fought back from 2-0 down in the series to level it at 2-2, UCAM Murcia will play Real Madrid in the Liga Endesa final

Juan Calderón

Malaga

Thursday, 6 June 2024, 07:14

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Unicaja’s hopes of winning the Liga Endesa were finally dashed last night (Wednesday 5 June) as they fell to a 70-79 defeat against UCAM Murcia in a dramatic fifth semi-final match at the Martín Carpena arena in Malaga.

Despite having fought back from 2-0 down in the series to level it at 2-2, defeat for the Malaga-based side, marked by a complete collapse in the final five minutes, means UCAM Murcia will face Real Madrid in the championship series.

Promising start

The hosts made a promising start to the game on Wednesday, dominating with a 10-0 lead within the first three minutes. Their aggressive defence forced their opponents into difficult shots, concluding the first quarter at 25-14 in favour of Unicaja.

However, the tide turned and, by the second quarter, Unicaja struggled with ball circulation and fell into a seven-minute scoring drought, allowing Murcia to claw back into the game, narrowing the gap to 32-31 by half time.

The third quarter saw both teams wrestle for control, but persistent defensive lapses from Unicaja allowed Troy Caupain to exploit gaps, scoring nine consecutive points. By the end of the third quarter, a last-second triple by Kendrick Perry kept Unicaja in contention at 50-51.

Disastrous ending

However, the final quarter proved disastrous for Unicaja. Despite a momentary resurgence resulting in a promising 63-55 lead, Murcia’s relentless zonal defence and Unicaja’s mounting errors led to a decisive 2-10 run by the visitors, tying the game at 65-65. In the last five minutes, Unicaja’s nerves took over, leading to a complete scoring blackout, sealing their fate and granting Murcia a well-deserved spot in the final.

Unicaja’s season, although resulting in a regular-season win and victory in the Champions League, now ends on a sour note.

"We must use this disappointment to fuel our desire next year," said coach Ibon Navarro.

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