euroleague working day 26
With the demand of the calendar just around the corner, since they will face Olympiakos and Fenerbahçe at home next week to determine their immediate future in the Euroleague, Barcelona solved the duel against Zalgiris with unusual authority. No rush, no surprises, no twists in the script and, above all, with the gazuza that Jasikevicius demanded because he had the defeat against this rival in Lithuania in his retina. This was decided by Mirotic, the superman azulgrana, capable of scoring 28 points in the match.
There was, however, a somewhat bizarre situation at the Palau, a hint of a duplicate of what happened the previous year at the Camp Nou with Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League. It happened that there were plenty of Zalgiris fans in the pavilion, to the point that at the start of the match the screams were deafening every time a Barça player stepped on the free-throw line, in the same way that Lithuanian points were celebrated with fervor. A noise with an echo because, for once, there was no massive presence of dracs -the spirited Barca fans-, probably because a couple of hours later the football team faced Real Madrid at the Bernabéu in the cup semifinals. But the battle of ballads did not last long because there was barely a match; because as it usually happens in the face of tangles and messes, Mirotic appeared, the best of the plungers, the timely response to the problem of the day.
The Montenegrin warned him in the first Barca attack; reception, jump and throw of three from the corner, welcome basket. Zalgiris was not intimidated, goaded on by his fans and his battler, with the race for the flag, with rebounds and attacks as short as hypersonic. Leading role and points for everyone against a Barça that was breaking down in retreat, with more fouls than necessary and the consequent snarling anger from Saras Jasikevicius, always on the boil and dissatisfied. But he asked for the Mirotic ball and the world became rosy, or rather azulgrana. Triple, government in the paint, firm wrist in free throws and a room with 12 points, finally that devastating version of the franchise player that the team missed in the cup defeat against Unicaja, even with Monaco in the last clash European. He was joined by Vesely, increasingly in tune with the passing of the games, remembering again that player who made more than a name for himself to reach the NBA or later scare with Fenerbahçe.
Although again, something that is repeated during the course because it was reversed last summer for a reason, the difference was established by the Barça wardrobe with the rotations, boosted by players from the second line. Sanli and the young Nnaji with his power under the basket, Abrines with his recurring points and even Tobey, strangely active. Good rest for Mirotic, who went out on the field again with a clean bite. Two attacks, two baskets and a breather for Barça because they reached the intermission with a 10-point difference (46-36).
The machinery had already been put into operation and Barça, for once, did not shiver or show weaknesses, but rather took out the shredder. And the game ended to the relief of Jasikevicius and to the uneasiness of the green fans at the Palau, who ended up dancing to the rhythm of the Barça songs like his team did to Barça. Merit of Satoransky, exceptional in the selection of shots and entrances to the hoop -he scored a alley-oop for the video library-, also from Laprovittola in the direction of the game -although he is still thicker than normal when looking at the basket- and, of course, from Mirotic, the caped basketball player.
BARCELONA, 93 – ZALGIRIS KAUNAS, 74
Barcelona: Satoransky (12), Laprovittola (6), Kalinic (5), Mirotic (28) and Vesely (7) -starting five-; Sanli (10), Abrines (5), Higgins (3), Tobey (5), Kuric (2), Jokubaitis (5) and Nnaji (5).
Zalgiris: Taylor (4), Hayes (8), Brazdeikis (15), Smits (6) and Ulanovas (7) -starting five-; Giedraitis (0), Lekavicius (7), Birutis (12), Polonara (8), Dimsa (1) and Butkevicius (6).
Referees: Javor (Esl), Panther (Ale) and Kardum (Cro). No deleted.
Palau Blaugrana. 5,545 spectators.
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