Copa del Rey – semi-final – working day 1
In Badalona a story ended. And another begins. Unicaja Malaga knocked out Real Madrid in the semifinals of the Cup after having swept champion Barcelona in the quarterfinals. No one since 1953, in the existence prior to the ACB, had knocked down the two giants in the same cup tournament. The feat was written by a group full of faith and basketball. And it will be remembered for a long time. For the first time in 14 years, since Tau and the Malaga club played in the 2009 final, neither of the two greats of Spanish basketball will be in the Cup final. Barca and Madrid shared the last 13 titles hand in hand, and the whites have not missed the decisive match for the crown for 10 editions. Unicaja threw away any previous script with a euphoric Kravish (20 points, six rebounds and three blocks), nine more rebounds in the backpack (34-25) and a collective exercise that deactivated the Madrid stars.
It’s a regular script. Faced with two rooks like Tavares and Yabusele, it is common to take refuge in positions further away from the ring rather than stepping on mined ground. The practice is usually repeated by Madrid’s rivals and was traced yesterday by Unicaja. A triple by Perry and another by Kravish, and several runs thrown by Perry, gave some initial security to the Greens and their anti-Tavares strategy. The Malaga team was looking for some fast food rather than static attacks that forced them into a melee, a scenario in which Madrid is a bone. Of course, the giant is very giant, the most dominant man in Europe. Three blocks from Tavares dwarfed Ibon Navarro’s boys and fed that Malaga respect for facing the wall. Tavares does more and more, and better and better. He is not just a dike, but from his privileged vantage point he sees holes in attack that others cannot reach and he dresses as a quarterback. His alliance with Musa returned the steering wheel to the whites: from 9-13 to 19-17 with which the first quarter ended.
Lots of new pieces on the board. A whole quintet of refreshment in Madrid, which has an army per squad. And Alberto Diaz and Dario Brizuela on the track for Unicaja. Time for the clairvoyance of Sergio Rodriguez, who plays with a thousand eyes despite the fact that the body is no longer what it was before, and for the muscle of Deck in the low post. In the greens Brizuela was with wet gunpowder (three misses and two fouls), but Kalinoski and Perry kept up the outside shooting fever (29-30). Chus Mateo returned Musa to reinforce unit B while Poirier and Yabusele added a block for beard. The pulse was very even in the Olympic, full of intensity on each side. Kravish did not wrinkle before Tavares’ return to the field and stamped two dunks that reflected the growth of Unicaja. The 39-39 at halftime made it clear that the game was played to the bravest card.
Unicaja rotated their pawns to dislodge Madrid, the team led by Ibon Navarro always very mobile. In command was Osetkowski, who made Tavares dizzy inside and out. He first swiped a 2 + 1 that the Cape Verdean protested (such a big man is always on target) and then hammered from the perimeter. On the next play, the American committed his fourth personal foul for a blow to Musa. But the inspiration was still green and Kalinoski struck again from distance, also with Tavares’ 2.21m on the nose (50-58). “Malaga! Malaga!” bellowed the Olympian.
Madrid needed a jolt. A triple by Sergio Rodriguez? Kravish responded with the same recipe. The whites could not find the spaces to reach the Unicaja ring and instead they were a vulnerable group in theirs. The Andalusians reached the last break a couple of feet ahead (59-66). This time there was no genius in a trance, like Brizuela against Barca, but a whole team very connected. Madrid was on the ropes, just like in the quarterfinals against Valencia.
The triple machinery continued at full capacity in the green squad (14 bingos of 27 attempts in the entire match). Ejim, Kalinoski and Carter bolted behind the three-point line and stretched the lead to 14 points: 64-78 with 7m 01s to go. To top it off, Musa withdrew injured and Tavares with a cut eyebrow.
To sweat in defense. The only opening for the comeback of Chus Mateo’s team was to tighten his belt much more without the ball. The fajadores appeared on the floor, and with them that spirit of resistance that the whites have stapled to the shield (72-80 at 4m 20s). That was not enough because Unicaja matched their revolutions at least and bid with more basketball carats. Kravish in the area and Carter in the distance put an end to the tremors of the Malaga troops, if there were any to see glory so close, while in Madrid the crazy (and missed) shots by Hanga and Yabusele were nothing more than the blows before death. In Badalona a great man sang, and it was not Barcelona, and it was not Madrid. At the Olimpic the drums sounded: “Malaga! Malaga!”.
REAL MADRID, 82 – UNICAJA MALAGA, 93
Real Madrid: Williams-Goss (9), Musa (10), Hezonja (2), Yabusele (6) and Tavares (19) —starting five—; Causeur (8), Rudy Fernandez (0), Hanga (3), Sergio Rodriguez (5), Deck (15), Poirier (5) and Cornelie (0).
Unicaja: Perry (10), Carter (12), Ejim (7), Kravish (20) and Djedovic (5) —starting five—; Osetkowski (14), Kalinoski (11), Barreiro (3), Brizuela (1), Alberto Diaz (2) and Thomas (8).
Referees: Antonio Conde, Oscar Perea and Rafael Serrano.
Olympic of Badalona. 11,547 viewers.
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Source: EL PAIS