Tenerife prevent Unicaja miracle comeback to clinch third spot
MALAGA (Spain) - Lenovo Tenerife have now collected all three possible podium spots in BCL. They finished first in 2017 and 2022, ended as runners-up in 2019, and on Sunday added a third-place finish to their name with an 84-79 win over Unicaja.
The stands of Martin Carpena arena were packed to the rafters, and the arena bowl got deafeningly loud but the 10,000-strong crowd could not push the hosts towards a miraculous comeback after Tenerife led by as many as 17 points.
Turning point: Lenovo Tenerife knocked down shot after shot to open up a 17-point lead right before halftime, but Unicaja did not give up. Instead, Kendrick Perry counted to 22 to get his team back into a tie with just a minute left to play.
That's when it was a matter of who gets the biggest shot of the day, after the teams traded blows. Tenerife nearly turned it over on their final possession, but a scramble bounced back their way, leaving a wide open three-pointer for Aaron Doornekamp who knocked it down to make it a 5-point game with just 13 seconds to play.
Game hero: Txus Vidorreta's eight players scored between eight and 12 points each, but Doornekamp's three three-pointers all felt bigger than just three points. The Canadian power forward ended the game with 11 points and a team-high 6 rebounds.
Stats don't lie: Not a lot any team can do when Tenerife are shooting 14-of-28 from beyond the arc. The only way Unicaja managed to make it interesting was with a 13-2 edge in offensive rebounds that got them a +16 advantage in second chance points.
Bottom line: Unicaja finished fourth despite having a shot to reach the Final, and having a chance to defeat Tenerife in the third-place game. They received a standing ovation from their fans long after the game, allowing coach Ibon Navarro to hear some praise for his men's efforts.
On the other hand, Tenerife are now up 2-1 on Unicaja in their head-to-head matchups this season. They won the first game in the Regular Season in the Liga Endesa, and this one, while losing the Spanish Cup Final. These two will play one more Regular Season game in Spain, before entering a best-of-three Quarter-Finals series in that same competition.