Two tough away days, two big victories - it's been an impressive week for Real Madrid. Following Thursday's win in Athens on their Euroleague opener, Chus Mateo's team got the better of Unicaja Málaga at the Martín Carpena on matchday three in the league. The madridistas are stil unbeaten at the start of this campaign, having picked up six wins so far. In another hugely physical affair, our boys turned the clash in the favour thanks to some solid defense and a 0-17 run across the second and third quarters which ultimately proved decisive. Yabusele, with 12 points and a PIR of 20 was the leading performer along with Poirier, Musa and Tavares. Llull stepped up in the final 30 seconds with the 4 points to close out the clash.
The expectation was palpable at a packed-out Martín Carpena (11,000 fans) as Real Madrid came to town, getting underway with a strong first quarter which saw our team show intensity in defense to stop Unicaja getting on the board in the first three minutes. An 0-8 run led by Sergio Rodriguez and Poirier (6 points and 4 rebounds) asserted dominance over proceedings in the early period despite the opposition's improvement, as they made the most of the visitors' 5 turnovers (14-18, min.10)
Madrid stem the hosts' response
Chus Mateo's boys were lacking threat on the outside and the Malaga defense was making life hard. Brizuela added some extra pace to his team, putting them ahead on the scoreboard with 9 points halfway through the second quarter. However, just as Ibon Navarro's team were at their best, our boys dug deep to cut the Unicaja response short. At 31-29 with 18 minutes gone, another 0-8 run came as Tavares and Yabusele made the difference in the paint. A combination of the center's dominance and the forward's precision from the free-throw line made sure Madrid headed into the break six up (31-37).
Video.71-76: Second win on the road this week
The madridista run continued up to 0-17 after our boys came out firing in the second half, taking control of the rebound in quarter three (with Hezonja, Yabusele and Poirier) and enjoying a more fluid offense, led by Causeur and the Croatian forward. Chus Mateo's team built up a 15-point lead with 23 minutes on the clock (31-46) and from then on played with greater calmness despite the Unicaja push led by Brizuela (47-56, min.30).
Llull, as ever
The hosts were playing on the limit now, and their efforts were reflected in just a five-point gap heading into the final quarter. But Madrid had cut out the turnovers and turned to individual talent to ensure the game didn't get away from them. Musa stepped up with a 2+1, Sergio Rodríguez appeared and Tavares was as forceful as ever to slowly crush the hopes of the ever combative Unicaja. A 0-9 saw the lead move back into double digits with just five minutes left on the clock (53-67), before the madridistas found themselves up against it once again in the following minutes, the Andalusian's final push bringing them back to within two points as the 39th minutes ticked round. Now was the time for who else but Sergio Llull. When the game calls for him, he always responds. The captain scored all of the next four points, backed by a solid final defense from Hezonja to see the game out and clinch a hard-fought victory (71-76, min. 40).
UNICAJA-REAL MADRID STATISTICS