The Barça survives to Brizuela

Sarunas Jasikevicius' team went down 20 and needed an extension to beat a brave Unicaja, led by a huge Darío Brizuela.


With a lot of effort, an extension and a decisive Higgins, Barça eliminated Unicaja from the Copa del Rey. After a disastrous start (and an excellent one from Malaga), the Catalans gradually closed the gap on the scoreboard until they took the lead in the fourth quarter. But Unicaja, led by Brizuela, never gave up. He forced overtime and fought until the last minute of it.

Unicaja erased from the track in the first minutes a doubtful, failing and not very intense Barça, who felt extremely uncomfortable in attack and outmatched in defense. The Malagueños of 20 (9-29) came to win and they did it on their own merits. The defense (in zone two-three) rewarded them with absolute control of the defensive rebound while Darío Brizuela, very fine, was widening the gap on the scoreboard. The contribution of Unicaja's outside shot was key to going 20 points up, as it was also for Barça not to drop the game: Two consecutive triples, at the end of the first quarter, placed the score at 15-29.

It was always noted that Unicaja had very little to lose to a favorite Barça not only to win the tie, but also the competition. They played loose, released and were creative. Especially the little ones. But Barça, logically, improved the disastrous start and came back on the scoreboard after a partial of 10-3.

The Barça improvement featured Oriola, who not only transmitted his intensity to the team, but also contributed rebounds and points. Westermann also shone, who took the baton from a misguided Calathes, and Higgins began to score. The result, 26-34 to five by the break. But if Barça came close on the scoreboard and ended the second quarter 39-44, it was mainly because of the defense. Jasikevicius' team returned to its usual level in 2021, where it has been one of the most difficult teams to beat in Europe.

The third quarter started with an exchange of baskets between Calathes and the shooters of Unicaja, especially Brizuela, again very intoned. The difference in the scoreboard was around five points, but rose to 10 (55-65) thanks to the triples made by Unicaja in the last minutes of the quarter. And it didn't go any further because Calathes avoided it with 11 almost consecutive points.

With a 21-21 run in the third quarter, the last one started five ahead for Unicaja. Barça cut it to one (67-68 to 8 by the end) and the inaccuracies began in the Malaga players. Two consecutive losses, a technique by flopping, steps ... All the doubts that Barça had in the first quarter were transferred to Unicaja in the last, which for the first time was put in tow on the scoreboard (69-68). Katsikaris stopped the game when Barça was already in command 73-68 thanks to an excellent defense to which Hanga contributed decisively.

But Brizuela, Unicaja's absolute offensive leader, refused to surrender his weapons and put Unicaja ahead (79-80) with two minutes to go. Higgins advanced with a triple again to Barça (84-82), but at the last minute they entered tied (84-84). And so the game ended, which with 88-88 went to extra time.

The nerves and fatigue were noted in both, scoring only from the free throw line the first six points. But Barça came in with an advantage at the last minute (96-93) and Higgins was in charge of raising the distance to five points. Brizuela failed (they called him a foul in attack) and a double technique. The game is over. In the end, 103-93.

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