Barça does not need Mirotic to stop Valencia dry

Those of Jasikevicius forged their victory in a great third quarter. The Latvian (15 points and 7 rebounds) and Calathes, in the direction, were the best Barça players.


Barcelona took a European victory from the Fuente de San Luis in a duel that was marked by the last-minute loss of Nikola Mirotic, its franchise player, who had tested positive for coronavirus yesterday. Those of Jasikevicius corrected everything they did wrong in the first half in the second half and they knocked down a Valencia that looked little like the one who marveled at the Wizink last Thursday.

The Latvian Roland Smits, Mirotic's natural substitute, kept his team afloat during the first two acts and ended up signing a roster worthy of the Hispano-Montenegrin: 15 points (without shooting failure), seven rebounds and two assists. Calathes, in the direction, also shone (14 points and seven assists) but above all the rescue came out in attacks where his team was suffocating, on the verge of possession.

Valencia, for its part, has evaporated after the beating it gave to Madrid. Defeats against Unicaja and Barcelona, both at home. There is work to be done. The Wizink video is the example. But between that and the last two games there is an abyss. Only Dubjlevic (13 points and 8 rebounds) maintained a more than acceptable level. The rest, except Kalinic who always provides an extra dose of punch always necessary, need to improve a lot. Also the whole. And this is work for Ponsarnau.

Spurred on by the 400 fans who entered La Fonteta and with the confidence that they dragged from the victory of Wizink, Valencia began by reversing almost all the attacks. Above all, Dubljevic, who scored nine of his team's first 11 points. A Prepelic entry gave the first advantages (15-9) and Barcelona applied the recipe that Saras had given them: triples from the corners. Smits and Higgins hit but Claver missed several pitches released. Thus, Saras changed the pattern and with Calathes it was about giving the ball more speed. It was the point guard, used to giving assists, the one who had to score to support Barça in the game.

Barça gave a return to the defense and Valencia, with a gray Van Rossom, found it difficult to create situations for their shooters. However, the offensive rebound gave him several second chances that they converted. Meanwhile, those of Jasikevicius relied on the success of Roland Smits to continue blowing on the nape of the taronjas. Quick scorecard for the Latvian in the first two quarters: 13 points (three triples), no failure, four rebounds and two assists. The locals no longer got shots from outside but the guards, Van Rossom and Vives, found corridors to make easy trays. A shot to the low post by Davies made it 35-33 at halftime.

Barça touched two little things in the locker room: avoid more losses (10 before the break) and press on defense. Calathes was in charge of the first, and he also scored like never before, finding the cracks in the taronja defense. The second was everyone's issue. And the local attack got so bogged down that, after a triple by Vives, he only scored on a couple of counterattacks. After a spectacular mate from Williams, Barça linked a 0-11 run, led by Abrines, who put the maximum advantage (44-54, min. 30) .

The feeling was that Valencia were so stuck (only 9 points in the third quarter) that Barcelona had it in hand. And if over the first three moves of the last act, Tobey misses a mate; Abrines hits a triple; and Marinkovic slipped the first ball that passed through his hands, the thing was already a chimera (44-59, min. 31). Still, Valencia did not let go. And with a basket from Van Rossom and a triple from Marinkovic they forced Saras to call a timeout. Valencia was going to try the comeback, based on a strong defense. But in attack the ideas still did not flow. And so it is impossible against a Barça that, even without Mirotic, tied the victory. Kalinic's two consecutive triples only served to tighten the scoreboard somewhat but the victory was never in danger for Barcelona.

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