Real Madrid secured an important win today at the Martín Carpena ahead of the Copa del Rey, which gets underway this Thursday in Granada (9:30pm CET). The league leaders defended their unbeaten record on the road thanks to hard work and dedication, having now racked up up ten consecutive wins, thanks to a strong offensive display in the first half that saw them reduce Unicaja's scoring after the break building up a 10-point lead in the final quarter that turned out to be crucial. Heurtel (16 points and 18 PIR), Causeur (16 and 17) and Poirier (11 and 16) were instrumental, along with Tavares in the final stretch. Abalde became the fifth player to score more than 10 points in a game in which Laso became the Madrid coach to oversea the most wins in the competition (362).
The first quarter was intense with both teams on top of their game in offence. Real Madrid saw the whole team contribute with eight of the 10 players scoring in the first 10 minutes (Llull, Heurtel and Hanga lead the way) up against a Unicaja side that capitalised on their transitions to cause Madrid problems in defence with Brizuela and Mooney. A three-pointer from the captain saw his side to finish the first quarter 23-25 up.
Offensive play from both teams
The pace in attack didn't drop in the second quarter with a continuous fight in attack and a constant change on the scoreboard. Our side moved the ball around well, with Abalde's penetrating runs and Yabusele's dominance in the low post, but Unicaja hit back with an energy in their paly, taking advantage of the visitors' turnovers. The first half ended 49-47 with both sides putting together good streaks.
Video.91-92: Win in Malaga ahead of the Copa del Rey
Ibon Navarro's side came out after the break refreshed and looking stronger, taking the lead after a 9-3 run with five points from Bouteille (57-50, min.22). Alocén's introduction gave Madrid a boost (he had to come off after a knee injury), and Causeur's class saw the league leaders stay ahead when Unicaja were on top thanks to their success from the three-point line. Laso's men reduced their opponents' scoring output considerably, but they had to wait until the final stages of the third quarter, when Yabusele was given a technical foul, to see more offensive continuity. Our side finished the quarter with six consecutive free throws, tying the game at 65 each with 30 minutes gone.
Madrid displayed their best
The last quarter saw signs of Madrid's improvement as they began to show their best, finding the form lost in previous games, demonstrating the side we're used to seeing, solid in defence and assertive in attack. Causeur was impressive from the perimeter, opening up the Andalusian defence. The Frenchman notched two three-pointers at the start of the period giving his team a boost of confidence and propelling them to victory thanks to a surge that their opponents couldn't respond to. Heurtel and Poirier worked hard at both ends of the court, seeing a 18-8 in five amazing minutes to take the lead to +10 at 73-83. Unicaja mounted their final push, spurred on by the crowd at the Martín Carpena, taking advantage of a technical against Laso and an unsportsmanlike foul on Causeur making it 85-87 with a minute to go. Real Madrid were not going to throw the towel in as they went on to score 5 points in the next 20 seconds, with Tavares stepping up. Two offensive rebounds and three free throws from the centre clinched the win, despite a long-range three-pointer from Barreiro which brought the lead down (91-92, min.40). Next up the Copa del Rey with the first final in four days against Río Breogán.