The Barça took the lead (2-1) in the Euroleague playoff in search of the ‘Final Four’ by winning (70-78) this wednesday at Zenith at the Sibur Arena, where he will look for the pass on Friday, shot after winning another war with Brandon Davies as captain general.
The American pivot pulled the Barça car in the middle of the distress. Those of Xavi Pascual once again demanded the maximum from the champion of the regular phase, a trench duel in which Davies (22 points, 8 rebounds and a PIR of 28) made the difference for a Barça that managed to breathe with a good tackle after the break.
Those of Sarunas Jasikevicius had a cushion of 10 points in the third quarter but Billy Baron (19) signed the local comeback. Thus the third game of the series returned to the tough battle of defenses, where Barça looked for Davies, the key to tie the series. Kuric, Higgins, Calathes and Mirotic also contributed to recover the home court factor and lower the fumes to the Russians.
Almost forty minutes of high intensity, as is this Euroleague, which the culé team started well (0-6), although soon the Zenit began to bite. Two fast fouls by Higgins left him out of the equation until the end and it was a three of three from Kuric’s triples that kept Barça out. Poythress and Thomas were the best of the Russians, dominating the rebound, with a lot of pressure.
Zenit only needed to plug in Pangos, who did not get in but did attend. Those of ‘Saras’ failed a lot under hoops, although the tension was noticed in many wrists, even in that of Pau Gasol in search of the triple. Mirotic didn’t make it into the game either, he played just six minutes of the first half, and Rivers was liked at 28-21.
It was the moment in which Davies broke in, in a partial of 0-8 that changed the script, in a less forceful way because of Baron (33-34). However, the restart brought Barça’s best moment, with Davies hurting both inside and outside (42-52). Again Baron plugged them in so that the fight could continue in the last quarter, where Barça was better in defense.
Those of Xavi Pascual, loaded with fouls in the fight with Davies, failed at the key moment and Higgins and Mirotic contributed on time so that Barça did not give up that small income. The last ones did not enter Pangos and Baron, while Calathes made Davies bigger for even a quiet end, perhaps the calm before Friday’s storm, again with an audience, where Barça can get a ticket to the Final Four in Cologne.
Outcome: Zenit, 70 – Barça, 78. (33-34, at halftime).
Zenith: Pangos (10), Hollins (1), Rivers (8), Thomas (10) and Black (8) – starting five -; Zakharov (-), Baron (19), Khvostov (-), Pushkov (-), Zubkov (-), Poythress (14).
Barça: Calathes (7), Higgins (16), Abrines (1), Mirotic (11) and Davies (22) -initial quintet-; Oriola (-), Martínez (-), Hanga (6), Bolmaro (-), Smits (-), Gasol (2), Kuric (13).
Partial: 16-16, 17-18, 18-21, 19-23.
Referees: Boltauzer, Hordov and Nikolic. Eliminated for fouls Poythress and Black.
Pavilion: Sibur Arena, 5,187 spectators.