Toupane leads Unicaja to triumph over Galatasaray
In a battle of two undefeated sides in the south of Spain on Tuesday night, Unicaja Malaga outlasted Galatasaray Doga Sigorta Istanbul 88-83 at Palacio de Deportes José María Martín Carpena. Momentum favored neither side as the visitors took an early lead before Unicaja settled into its stride. The lead changed hands several times with the game hanging in the balance until the final minutes when the hosts asserted their dominance to snatch the victory. Axel Toupane led all scorers with 22 in an awesome display of shooting for the winners. Unicaja was aided too by Volodymyr Gerun’s 13 points, Deon Thompson’s 12 and 11 each from Adam Waczynski and Josh Adams. For the visitors, Aaron Harisson scored 20, Tai Webster netted 14 points and Zach Auguste 13.
Webster got things started as he drove to the basket and scored. Goksenin Koksal hit a three before Harrison scored to give the visitors a 0-7 lead. Unicaja eventually got on the board with a Thompson free throw but it was Galatasaray to score next with a Harrison three. Unicaja settled into the game and while it never really found its shooting range, the hosts got defensive stops. Unicaja drew within 10-12 midway through the opening quarter. Galatasaray kept its nose in front, but Unicaja wasn’t going anywhere. Waczynski hit a three and with under a minute left the score was 16-18. Webster struck from beyond the arc as Galatasaray took a 18-21 lead into the second quarter. Unicaja whittled the lead down to the minimum thanks to an Alberto Diaz basket. Gerun finished and was fouled as Unicaja earned the chance to level matters for the first time since the start of the game, which the home team duly did at 27-27. Melvin Ejim gave Unicaja its first lead of the game from the foul line. That didn’t last long though as Auguste countered with a three-point play. The lead changed hands again with a three from Thompson. The lead was as slender as possible though at 32-31. Harrison swung the lead in the opposite direction and Auguste solidified Galatasaray’s lead at 32-36. It was only fitting that Thompson leveled matters at 37-37 as halftime approached. Just when it looked like it would stay that way, Thompson connected on a corner three and the lead had a new owner. Thompson added a free throw to bring himself to 11 and Unicaja led 42-39 after the opening half.
The hosts extended their lead early in the third to 4 as Thompson scored his 8th point in a row. Unicaja threatened to open up a lead, but Galatasaray refused to lie down and Koksal hit another three to reduce the deficit again at 47-46. That was before Adams finished after a beautiful Eurostep along with a Waczynski three. Momentum, if there was any, seemed to be favoring the home side. Toupane got into double figures with 11 as he landed a three to give Malaga a 62-56 lead as time expired. After exchanging a couple of quick baskets, the third finished at 64-58 as a crack of daylight started to open up between the sides. Every time Unicaja led by as many as 6, Galatasaray replied. This time, it couldn’t though as Diaz hit a three and broke the visitors’ resistance. Another three from Toupane had the score at 70-58. Unicaja's lead was growing as Galatasaray’s hopes dwindled. Toupane’s hand was suddenly hot and he hit another three. He stole the resulting attack by Galatasaray and finished for his 8th point in succession. Unicaja led 14-2 in that fourth quarter and 78-60 overall. Galatasaray got it back down to 10 with just under 4 remaining at 78-68. Greg Whittington hit another three and the lead was down to 7. The visitors would whittle it down to as few as 6, but they had left themselves too much work to do. Adams hit a three for Unicaja and Harrison replied for Galatasaray to leave it 85-80 with under a minute to play. A Koksal triple made it a 4-point game but that was how this wild and entertaining game ended.
The game swung back and forth with neither side really establishing themselves as the better side. Both teams threatened to take over but couldn’t. That was until Alberto Diaz turned a 6-point lead into a 9-point lead in the fourth quarter with a pivotal three. It gave Unicaja its biggest lead to that point and there was no looking back from there.
The crowd chanted MVP for Axel Toupane and they might have a point. He scored 22 points and at one stage in the fourth quarter, he scored 11 in a row for the home side. He was four from five from three-point land and had 3 assists and 3 steals to go with his impressive shooting display.
Did you notice?
Toupane finished with a career-high 22 points on Tuesday night. He also had a career-high 3 steals/
Unicaja puts its winning streak on the line against EWE Baskets Oldenburg in Germany on Wednesday, October 23rd. Galatasaray plays Buducnost VOLI Podgorica the same night as it tries to get back to winning ways.
Tuesday, October 15, 2019