ANDhe Bitci Baskonia cut FC Barcelona’s good run of results and left the Palau Blaugrana with an important victory (78-91) that keeps the people from Vitoria in the fight for the Copa del Rey, also ending a long drought outside the Buesa Arena . Those of Spahija reacted after their painful defeat in Kaunas last Thursday and signed one of the best games of the season.
The 42 points (50 PIR) signed jointly by Steven Enoch and Matt Costello boosted the Basques, who came to enjoy up to 18 points ahead midway through the third quarter. Mirotic, with 20 points, was the best of a Barcelona that missed too much from long distance and lost the fight for the rebound (29 to 37)
- 78- Barça (12 + 23 + 19 + 24): Laprovittola (2), Kuric (12), Hayes-Davis (10), Mirotic (19), Sanli (10) -starting team-, Oriola (-), Davies (7), Sergi Martínez (4), Smits (-), Jokubaitis (13), Caicedo (-) and Ubal (-).
- 91- Bitci Baskonia (22 + 24 + 22 + 23): Granger (5), Giedraitis (9), Baldwin IV (11), Sedekerskis (8), Enoch (23) -starting team-, Costello (19), Peters (4), Marinkovic (4), Fontecchio (2) and Nnoko (6).
A successful start, in which Baskonia scored in 5 of their first 6 attacks, allowed the visitors to take a 4-12 lead after several baskets in transition. Jasikevicius was quick to see the danger, stopping the game immediately with a timeout that, however, did not produce immediate results. A Giedraitis basket and 4 points from an intractable Enoch in the paint kept Barcelona in tow, 6-18, a disadvantage that would remain at the end of the first quarter after 4 consecutive points from Nnoko (12-22, min.10).
The sky continued cloudy for the culés, blinded from the line of three points and very inferior in the fight in the boards. Costello, who was dressing again short after several games absent due to injury, took over in attack with 7 almost consecutive points that sent the Vitoria players to an advantage close to twenty (20-38, min.14). A very angry Jasikevicius demanded the reaction of his team in an intense time-out, with Mirotic in charge of translating the Lithuanian’s harangues into points on the court. Thus, 9 from Montenegrin and greater activity in defense kept Barcelona in the game at halftime (35-46).
The expected reaction of the Blaugrana after the break did not materialize due to the exhibition starring the inner Vitorian couple composed of Enoch and Costello. Between the two they signed the first 14 points of the visitors, unleashing the rival defense with baskets of all kinds (41-58, min.24). Kuric came to the rescue of his team, scoring a triple and a free kick after a technique to Spahija, Sanli taking over in attack to bring his team closer to 12 points. Baskonia did not break down, however, reacting hand in hand with Peters, Granger and Sedekerskis to enter the last period dominating 54-68.
Two triples, one from Jokubaitis and the other from Sanli, culminated in a 10-2 run for Barcelona that lifted the Palau spectators from their seats (64-70, min. 33). The comeback was incomplete, however, with Baskonia showing a serenity that they had hardly practiced in previous matches. Baldwin IV appeared to maintain the scoring rhythm of the visitors when the Catalans pressed the most, and that oxygen was vital to reassure his team. The final sentence would come from the hand of the fourth triple without failure by Costello (70-85, min. 38), making the last minutes inconsequential.