euroleague – rooms – working day 2
Jokubaitis celebrated his three-pointer by making the u with his mouth while Abrines, Mirotic and Sanli raised their arms to unleash that intimate and passionate communion with the Palau, to put a seven-point lead against a Zalgiris that did not throw in the towel. There were less than two minutes left and the Barça team finally had a breather in a duel that matured with patience and tenacity, a final triumph with their tongue hanging out for the effort and laurel that put the series 2-0. The Final Four just around the corner the corner, even though now the next two stakes will be played in Lithuanian lands.
Far from showing that languid version of the first meeting, Zalgiris came out on the parquet brisk and determined. He moved the ball quickly and, above all, he no longer played with a shrunken wrist -then he missed the 13 triples that he tried- because Ulanovas and Brazdeikis made a target from the perimeter to open their mouths. Barça, too soft in defense, suffered on their court in the same way that they also found a way to express themselves in the opposite basket because Vesely imposed the law on him in the low post, bigger and more vigorous than Smits. A one-on-one fight that also moved to the stands because the Lithuanians, who took over the seats reserved for the rival fans, were as spirited as they were thunderous, also proud to teach that basketball in the country is the most important of the least important. But no one yelled more than Jasikevicius from the Barça technical area, expressively enraged, initially dissatisfied with the competitive mentality of his team, an argument that he never tired of repeating in the preview, tired of his team taking triumphs for granted beforehand, tara that has made silence. But he did not repeat himself last night.
Uncomfortable because Zalgiris mercilessly punished Barça from the area, Palau was hoarse to urge their team on so that they would not be intimidated by the physical duel posed by their rival. You could chew the tension. Jasikevicius’ period fight against Sergi Martínez, three running fouls against Sanli in a jiffy and a mate from Polonara that he celebrated with too much effusiveness and arrogance that uncorked the pita. Also to Vesely, who was still without a corset under the ring -18 points at intermission-, also a Kalinic from abroad who wants to win the coach over again (he threw him off the bench against Efes in November) now that the good stuff is coming.
The return to the parquet was more of the same, a duel of alternations and a fight for the flag, although with greater intensity in defense on the part of the two teams, especially from a Barça that used aid and two against one to cause losses and nervousness in the rival. Something that also stimulated Mirotic, who had his moment of chard and Popeye with two consecutive triples. But not even with those did Barça open a gap, which needed a triple on Laprovittola’s horn to once again take the lead (68-66). Fallow for the last dance. “Come on! Let’s go!” Satoransky shouted angrily after a robbery and a basket, with four minutes to go before the end of the duel and putting a five-point lead. But Zalgiris, standing until the end, leaned on Brazdeikis to demand a little more from Jasikevicius’s team. And well he gave it. Mirotic did it, of course, because he played; Vesely because he had no end (26 points and scoring record as a Barça player); and the team in general. Sign that he wants more. And he lacks little, already with the Final Four just around the corner.
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