Zizic stops Barça in an agonizing extension

Sarunas Jasikevicius' team cannot certify their leadership in a heart attack match. The Croatian center, with a PIR of 33, leads the victory.


Barcelona had before them the highest peak of the season so far, crowning the Euroleague, but the Barça flag could not be nailed. For now Against Fuenlabrada, in ACB, the Catalans lived a final agony that they no longer remembered, but that trained their hearts for today. Against Zizic, with 24 points and a PIR of 33, he made it really agonizing this time: Higgins' basket to tie the game with ten seconds left, extra time and, technique to Mirotic in between, Barca fall (99 -94). With Kuric's triples (3 of 6) as a sign of rebellion and a Brandon Davies who, from (very) less to more, ended up climbing like few others (12 + 8); but succumbing like everyone. Mirotic (23 + 10) and Higgins (20 points) included.

The Israeli team had a maxim that could be worth it: defense, defense and defense. Keep the score low and slow down an exchange of blows in which Barça usually riddles. He made it clear from the start: it took Sarunas nearly three minutes to release their private locker (5-3). Mirotic, author of the first triple, and Higgins, who returned after being absent several games, signed the only Blaugrana points two minutes after finishing the first quarter. About ten first minutes with a depressing series of shots: 2/5 from two and 2/9 from the triple (19-14). It would not improve the matter at the beginning of the second act, when, with 24-16 on the scoreboard, Jasikevicius left one of his idiosyncratic annoyances.

Up to here, Hanga said with four points in a row. Then, the Israeli blows were answered until a partial of 0-7, with a triple by Higgins and two brilliant baskets by Oriola, which would remain in little more. The captain, who arrived after collecting 5 offensive rebounds against Alba Berlin, pulled the repertoire to close a partial 37-36 and significant reaction. In four minutes, Barça scored, already in the third quarter, the same 14 points as during the first. A totally different game, in which defensive errors gave way to offensive successes (55-52). Another game, more favorable to the culé style, but a common denominator: Zizic, who denied the equalizer to Barça, with 12 points during the third quarter (65-59) and 24 at the end. A constant that would be repeated until the final fall.

Mirotic moment and tragic extension

The best always show up in the important moments, they say. And Mirotic must have learned the lesson from a very young age. Also Higgins. The power forward began to dance in the last quarter, when, normally, the body of the majority is not for parties: he left a former NBA like Casspi on the ground and, after actions with rhythms of all genres, culminated a promotion that, today, would be without a prize. Defensive rebound to relaunch Barça, their 2000 point in the competition and 72-72 on the scoreboard. The epic was sensed after a game in which Barça could not get ahead until the second half had started. And his friend Cory made it almost tangible.

Almost. Zizic, again, and Chris Jones put the Catalans against the ropes. Higgins avoided the final blow: 80-80 and extra time. In it, very close to the summit was Barça, who came to be 4 points up with 1:45 minutes to go; but he slipped. Two triples in a row, one by Elijah Bryant and another by Tyler Dorsey (92-90), along with a technique pointed out to Mirotic, a fallen hero (34 valuation), would mean the final detachment. Nikola did not understand it, but he stepped, subtly and tragically, on the touchline with 12 seconds left (94-94), when Maccabi was about to put the ball in motion. From there, succession of Israeli free throws without failure. The summit will have to wait.

Photos from as.com
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