- Classification: This is the Euroleague
Barça is a clear candidate to raise the Euroleague. In case there could be any doubt about it, those of Svetislav Pesic were in charge of initiating it with a worked victory against a Maccabi that was able to make things very difficult in the first two quarters of the duel. A new exhibition of Nikola Mirotic , always involved in the game, which was added by the successful contribution of Cory Higgins , especially at the defensive level, the lethal doll of Abrines in the triples and the final irruption of Kuric , allowed the Barcelona players to sign a second part of the spectacular one in which he ended up endorsing the Israelis, by far, his most bulky defeat in what we have in the tournament (96-73). [Narration and statistics]
The first quarter already made it very clear that Barca was going to have to grit his teeth to take the victory against a Maccabi who pulled physique to stop the Barcelona attacks, without caring too much about the punishment that that might come to him. If before Fenerbahçe the most brilliant of the Catalans at the start was Higgins, this time Mirotic took over. The partial of 21-18 with which it was reached at the end of the first period had a lot to do with his performance. Some and others, of course, did not show their best galas in the shots from beyond the line of 6.75, much as Delaney closed the score for his own precisely with a triple.
Comeback from triple
The fact that Abrines opened precisely the score of the second quarter with another three-point pitch seemed to presage a change. A change that, however, was embodied primarily in the hands of the Maccabi. If in the first quarter the Israeli team was able to score only one of seven attempts in the triples, in the second they would finally leave for rest with a very hard score for Barcelona's interests: six out of seven. In that facet Dibartolomeo shone, perfectly shielded by Wilbekin to lead the Israeli team to a partial victory by 43-46 to rest. An unsportsmanlike Tomic, in the initial moments, and too many failures in the free throws of the Catalans, before an opponent who continued playing to the limit, contributed to explain the comeback visitor.
Those of Pesic, despite all the obstacles, managed to stay within the game thanks not only to the deadly doll of Abrines in the triples, but also to the success of both a Higgins and a Mirotic that did not lose his face at any time to meet. The three, especially Higgins, would also be absolutely decisive for Barça to achieve not only the comeback, but also leave by a ten-point lead on the scoreboard just over three minutes to the end of the third period (67-57 ). It didn't help Sfairopoulos to ask for dead time to stop the bleeding. Then, things got a little worse for theirs, with a 69-57 for Barcelona players who put a lot of land in between, no matter how much Dorsey tried to narrow things based on triples in the twilight of the third quarter.
Mirotic, however, was already absolutely unleashed. And, of course, he didn't seem at all willing to allow the victory to ultimately escape the Palau. The Maccabi had decided to stop largely the intensity deployed in the first part. A decision that Pesic made them pay very expensive, with a partial part absolutely incontestable (31-20). The Israelis, however, pulled the pundonor to try to reach the last and definitive period with options, however timid they were, to complicate things again for Barça (74-66). The Catalans, despite everything, had already found the good relationship with the outside shot that they had missed so much in the first minutes. Something that served to mark again distances at the start of the last period.
With Mirotic and Higgins enjoying a well-deserved rest, Kuric was in charge of continuing to punish a Maccabi already fully developed by the barrage of the Barca game. Not even the return to the track of the former CSKA managed to shade him. He managed to chain a pair of triples, with a good entry to the basket in between, and the collaboration also from beyond the 6.75 line of Oriola allowed Barça to leave for a bleeding difference of +21 in the light to face the final four minutes of the match (89-68). The visitors, in practice, almost raised the white flag, as if waiting for the Barcelonaists to take pity on them so that they did not charge themselves with revenge for the defeat they inflicted on Baskonia. And little was missing for it. Those of Pesic, tremendously effective in defense, annulled them completely in attack and signed a partial 22-7 that would raise them to a tremendous 96-73 final that clearly shows their more than firm candidacy for the title. That Cologne adds its name to those of Barcelona and Paris, right now, is much more than a possibility. Much more.
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