MURCIA, September 16 (from . Special Envoy, Ramón Chamorro) –
Unicaja will be the rival of Real Madrid this Sunday in the final of the Endesa Super Cup 2023 that is being played at the Palacio de los Deportes in Murcia after beating UCAM Murcia 74-79 this Saturday in a disputed second semifinal of the competition .
The Malaga team, current champion of the Copa del Rey, knew how to survive the atmosphere in their rival’s fiefdom in a match that they almost always dominated, with over ten points even in the last quarter, but which finally suffered to close it against the resistance of the host, driven by his audience at all times, but who paid at times for a certain lack of calm.
In a match that was more exciting than brilliant, Sito Alonso’s team accumulated up to 16 losses and that was a burden that ended up costing them their chances against Ibon Navarro’s team, who were more solid and who opted for a collective game to try once again to conquer the the only national title missing from their record.
The Palacio de los Deportes in Murcia was transformed into a noisy ‘cauldron’ to try to help their team in their attempt to play in their first grand final. The atmosphere and desire seemed to weigh on their players, who were a little more nervous at the fast start, and which Unicaja took advantage of to start better ‘flying’ on the court (4-9).
However, with the energy of Moussa Diagné and Dylan Ennis, and with a Cup champion failing to continue its good start, the hosts managed to balance things and with triples from Howard Sant-Ross and Ludde Hakanson take the lead against the euphoria of their fans. Ibon Navarro quickly stopped the clash to restore equality at the end of the first quarter (20-20).
The two teams, in their commitment to play quickly, were not entirely successful (6 losses for both at halftime), but the start of the second quarter was positive for UCAM, which thanks to three-point plays (three-pointers by Thad McFadden and Hakanson and ‘2+1’ by Nemanja Radovic) managed to take a short lead again (29-24).
But the Costa del Sol team knew how to remain calm. They pushed back and also found a way to score a triple (Melvin Ejim and Kameron Taylor) to score an excellent 2-13 that forced Sito Alonso to call his team back into order after suffering a traffic jam in attack. UCAM reacted, but a block and a basket by Kedrick Perry left their rival ahead at halftime (37-41).
UNICAJA BREAKS, BUT DOES NOT SENTENCE
The Copa del Rey champion came out better in the second half and threatened to break the game very early. With the work of Dylan Osetkowsky and toughening his defense, they reached the maximum advantage of the semifinal (43-52). Sito Alonso stopped the game and Unicaja blamed that brief stoppage so that the Palace continued believing (49-52) and it was now Ibon Navarro who asked for a minute of reflection.
Nemanja Radovic (10 points) was the most lucid in attack of the hosts, but it was not enough to overtake the Malaga team, who better managed the increase in volume in the Murcia venue to remain ahead in the final ten minutes of the semifinal (56-60).
And again Unicaja started the decisive stretch better. An ‘ally-oop’ from Ilimane Diop, a triple from Alberto Díaz and a ‘2+1’ from Tyson Carter gave him a new important advantage (58-68). Diagné tried to reply, but the triple scorer was lethal and the difference was stretched even further (62-74).
In any case, the university team did not want to give up so easily in front of its enthusiastic fans and wanted to take its last breath. Sito Alonso’s team still dreamed of a tense finale due to some inexplicable mistake by their rival and they came within three-point range with 37 seconds remaining (74-77). Dustin Sleva had it, and with time, but he didn’t even touch the rim, and despite the insistence, victory did not escape the Malaga team.
–RESULT: UCAM MURCIA, 74 – UNICAJA, 79 (37-41, to the result).
UCAM MURCIA: Caupain (3), Ennis (14), Sant-Ross (9), Sleva (3) and Diagné (13) –starting quintet– McFadden (3), Jelinek (-), Hakanson, Birgander (2 ), Kurucs (4), Radovic (13) and Sakho (-).
UNICAJA: Perry (7), Taylor (9), Djedovic (13), Osetkowski (11) and Thomas (8) –starting quintet- Díaz (4), Kalinoski (3), Barreiro, Carter (12), Diop ( 3) and Ejim (9).
–PARTIALS: 20-20, 17-21, 19-19 and 18-19.
–REFEREES: Conde, Bultó and Olivares. They eliminated Kurucs due to personal fouls.
–PAVILLION: Sports Palace of Murcia.