The pride of Barça on Thursday overcame the losses of Nikola Mirotic, Víctor Claver and Alex Abrines to tear down in extra time to a rocky Panathinaikos at the Palau Blaugrana (97-89) and add the third victory in the Euroleague of basketball.
In extra time (22-14), the Catalans, led by former Greek team player Nick Calathes, moved the ball better, found Davies (20 points and 5 rebounds) in the zone and scored from the perimeter, with Higgins shining (24 points), to end the resistance of a very competitive rival.
Fate did not accompany the locals already before the start of the meeting. Not only because of the positive for covid-19 of Nikola Mirotic, its star, but also due to the last minute loss of Víctor Claver, one of his defensive props, suffering from fascia problems.
As if that were not enough, after eight minutes of meeting Álex Abrines sprained his right ankle. Three sensitive casualties that Jasikevicius’ team noticed in a very thick first quarter, surely the weakest since the Euroleague began.
A partial 13-18 against in the first ten minutes of the Greeks made the Lithuanian coach desperate. The Barça interiors ran into the wall formed by Papagiannis and Mitoglou and the zonal defense proposed by Vovoras, while Marcus Foster – who finished the game with 24 points – executed the offensive plan.
With no options in the area, the Barça team woke up in the second act hand in hand with Calathes and Kuric, from the perimeter. From 13-18 it went to 21-18 (min.12).
Without a brilliant game, Barça knew how to hold on in defense, hoping that the talent of one of its exteriors would counter the Foster’s imbalance.
Heurtel, with his usual class who at this start of the season has been seen on a few occasions, appeared before the break to place 36-35 favorable to his team at halftime.
The script of the first quarter was repeated in the resumption. The zonal defense of the Greeks blocked the Barça attack. Turnovers multiplied and Panathinaikos took advantage of it to easily score both from the perimeter.
The Greek partial was scandalous: 8-20 in seven minutes to enjoy an eleven-point lead for the Greeks (44-55). ‘Saras’ asked for a timeout and his team came back to life with the triples of Calathes, Higgins and Kuric, and the defense. Strong behind, the Catalans they chained a 12-0 run to leave everything open ten minutes to go (58-58).
Equality was maintained in a very defensive last period. Panathinaikos had little to lose, while Barça, with many doubts, pulled on the pride of Davies and Higgins to maintain a minimal advantage (75-72) with 17 seconds to go.
But a foul by the young Sergi Martínez with a shot of three from Kaselakis, seven seconds to go, leveled the match again. Higgins missed the last possession and the game was decided in extra time.
The last five minutes were an offensive festival and, thanks to the triples of Kuric and Hanga, and to the points of Davies and Higgins, Barça emerged victorious in a very demanding battle.- Technical sheet:
97 – Barça (13 + 23 + 22 + 17 + 22): Hanga (6), Higgins (24), Abrines (-), Smits (4), Davies (20) -starting five-, Bolmaro (-), Heurtel (7), Pustovyi (1), Oriola (6), Martínez (1), Kuric (14) and Calathes (14)
89 – Panathinaikos (18 + 17 + 23 + 17 + 14): Foster (24), Sykes (-), Papapetrou (8), Auguste (2), Mitoglou (16) -initial- Papagiannis (2), Kaselakis (5), Nedovic (15), White (-), Sant- Ross (17).
Referees: Luigi Lamonica, Olegs Latisevs and Gytis Vilius. Eliminated: Papapetrou (min.35).
Incidents: Match of the fourth day of the Euroleague. basketball played without an audience at the Palau Blaugrana.