Ka-Ca for the win: Kabaca, Caloiaro help Galatasaray hand Unicaja first defeat
ISTANBUL (Turkey) - Galatasaray Nef and Unicaja crossed paths for the second time this week, and over the course of those 80 minutes, the scores ended up tied at 148-148. Crucially though, Galatasaray won the reverse fixture 72-67 in Sinan Erdem Arena on Thursday night, handing the Spanish team their first loss in the Round of 16.
The Turkish side has now improved to 2-2 in the Group K standings, a win behind AEK and Unicaja at the top of the group. Limoges CSP are already eliminated, still winless after four tries.
Turning point: Unicaja entered the final quarter holding a 58-56 lead, but Sadik Emir Kabaca and Angelo Caloiaro would not allow the visitors to stay in front for long. Kabaca's three-pointer marked the last lead change of the game, at 59-58.
The 22-year-old was there in the fourth too, contributing blocks, dunks and assists, while Caloiaro did the dirty work under both rims to keep Galatasaray in front. When Dario Brizuela cut the gap to two points in the final minute, it was Caloiaro who fought for the most important rebound of the game, and he stayed calm from the line, making both shots to make it a two-possession lead.
🤫 Nobody told Sadik Emir Kabaca he's the youngest guy on the floor...— Basketball Champions League (@BasketballCL) March 9, 2023
Big 4QT from the youngster ♨️♨️#BasketballCL I @GSBasketbol pic.twitter.com/GL557Er5Jb
Unicaja tried answering with two threes by Tyler Kalinoski, but both of them missed the target, and then it was all down to Dylan Ennis to set the final score from the free throw line. He split a pair of shots, meaning it was Galatasaray who actually missed a chance to claim the tiebreaker.
Game heroes: The Ka-Ca tandem. Sadik Emir Kabaca finished with 13 points, Angelo Caloiaro collected 15 with 9 rebounds, and the two of them scored 13 of Galatasaray's 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Stats don't lie: Unicaja were better in rebounding (47-34), fast break points (17-5), points in the paint (30-24), points from the bench (38-23), they had more steals (7-2), assists (18-14) and blocks (4-3).
However, they shot only 27-of-72 from the field, and Galatasaray were +7 from the free throw line, making it all about who can get the ball through the hoop more often. Simple stats.
Bottom line: Unicaja and AEK at 3-1, Galatasaray at 2-2 with two games to play. Galatasaray will be in Athens next week, while Unicaja play host to Limoges. Last Gameday will send Galatasaray to France, and Unicaja to Greece. Every point matters.