Nikola Mirotic was for many minutes the cross of the Barça in Istanbul, denied in the shot, unable to get into a tough game in front of Fenerbahçe, away from the decisive image that is accompanying him this season. AND He was also the Barça hero by scoring the winning basket in the last second, when the extension seemed inevitable. With a pitch only within reach of the chosen ones, while falling and getting rid of two rivals, Mirotic redeemed himself and gave the sixth victory to Barça, which remains undefeated in the competition after visiting one of the most complicated courts in Europe (74-76).
“I have tried to get into the game, but I have not succeeded and I have tried to contribute other things to the team,” Mirotic explained at the end. “In the last time-out, the coach told me that I had the opportunity to get that basket and I am very happy especially for my teammates, for all the work they have put on the field today.”
The game did not start well for Barça, overwhelmed by the success of Jan Vesely, a great forward who did not catch on in his time in the NBA, decisive in Europe. Fenerbahçe’s first 10 points were his while Barça missed 9 of their first 10 shots. The entry of Davies and also of Smits rebalanced the balance from a defensive improvement. Jasikevicius’s team, which lost ten points, improved their sensations and began to find the basket to go ahead at the end of the first quarter (20-15).
The prominence of Calathes, after a few minutes on the bench, also had a very positive effect, because not only did the Greek base generate play, but he began to add and impose the rhythm. The especially offensive blackout of the Turkish team was absolute in those minutes. With Vesely offline, no one was able to take over the scorer. And the image of Barça’s superiority ended up clearly moving to the scoreboard in the last five minutes of the first half, in which Barça signed a resounding 2-15 partial with which he opened his first comfortable gap and crossed all the doubts to Djordjevic’s players, who went head down at half-time (29-35).
Higgins and Davies appear
The game, which was already dripping in the first half, thickened even more in the resumption. With 14 points only scored in those 10 minutes, Barça managed to stay ahead on the scoreboard to enter the last partial. Losses and missed shots began to follow with two teams determined to empty themselves on defense.
In that intense and physical game, each basket became a trophy. There were players who were very uncomfortable, case of Mirotic or Sanli himself on his return to Istanbul. And others grew up like Smits, or Calathes, increasingly comfortable in the role of reference, and responsible for keeping Barça competitive against the Vesely whirlwind, who finished with 24 points, in one of their best games. Higgins, totally off in the first half, ended up appearing in his best version, just like a huge Davies did inside the zone to bring the game to a heart attack, in which Mirotic claimed the leading role.