Norris Cole conquers the Palau

ASVEL get their sixth straight victory after winning a tight duel in which they were more successful at the end. Norris Cole, with 21 points, the best.


Asvel Villeurbanne's victory at the Palau Blaugrana (69-76) was the sixth in a row for the French, making it very clear that his improvement is neither a coincidence nor a matter of a day. The French team, led by Cole, Howard and Lighty, was a nuisance for a Barça that had a hard time scoring as a result of the good, and strong, visiting defense. Those of Jasikevicius were always uncomfortable, especially in the last quarter, where Asvel's greatest success led to the crash.

Only Mirotic's superiority sustained Barça in the opening minutes, which failed in virtually every other aspect of the game. Asvel led the way, controlled the offensive rebound and scored with relative ease and overwhelming physical power. Fall outscored Pustovyi in attack, while the French were strong on defense. They valued all aspects of 'a physical game', whether it was running in transition or being firm on the rebound. In that network Barça fell in Lyon, and in it they became entangled again in the Palau (15-19).

Barça continued to struggle to score at the start of the second quarter, but Asvel was quickly charged with fouls. They were very aggressive, and effective, but they paid their price. Barça took advantage of it and took the lead (21-19). Kuric and Oriola entered the game and were noticed, increasing Barça's score but not the advantage (35-34): Asvel kept the bar very high.

Mirotic continued to be Barça's beacon, even scoring an unlikely triple. but Cole, Lighty and Howard answered every good deed of the Montenegrin. It was not Higgins' night, who had some matches at a very high level, something that Barça obviously noticed in attack. As well as the contribution of Davies, the best Barça player by far and who kept the game alive until the final minutes. But it was not enough to defeat an Asvel that added to the intensity a greater success.

The final minutes began with the match and the score completely even and with Mirotic on the bench: he saw the fourth foul in the first seconds. One more setback for Barça and a break for Asvel, who played more comfortable (54-58). Two triples, in a delicate moment, put the visitors six ahead with just over four to go but Davis's points and Mirotic's return reduced the distance (64-66) .

Despite the fact that they entered the decisive minutes very evenly, the trend of the game was favorable to Asvel. More successful, more intense, more effective. A superiority that led him to seven up, an advantage that turned out to be definitive. Barça approached and had a remote option of fighting a crash that ended up losing (69-76) .

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