A robbery of the ball by Hanga 13 seconds before the end of the extension took Barça out of the impasse in which it rocked in the thick duel that it fought against Zenit. The Hungarian forward decided the contest ultimately put the 79-76 on the scoreboard and finished off with another steal when Zenit tried to force a second overtime almost on the final horn.
Barça tied the series and avoided greater evils in the twisted and harrowing series of the quarterfinals of the Euroleague that faces an indomitable rival. The ballast of the defeat in the first party weighed his in the spirit of the Barcelona. The second round turned into a path of thorns for Jasikevicius’s team, which started as a clear favorite and who for many moments found themselves on the edge of the precipice. He felt the bad feelings, forced to battle in a dynamic in which he could not deploy his offensive torrent or assert his best card, that of a reluctant Mirotic, often surpassed by Will Thomas. Quite the opposite of what was happening with Zenit, delighted with the way Canadian guard Kevin Pangos has assumed command both in the Russian gear and in the series. Mirotic had four rebounds and eight points, with a basket of two on six shots, plus a triple and three free throws in 31 minutes. A poor baggage in one of his worst games this season. Calathes was not right either, with three points and four assists, in a game in which he was once again beaten by Pangos.
More dynamic, better synchronized, Zenit managed to maintain the constants that gave them victory in the first game from the start. Jasikevicius changed the composition of the starting five, including Oriola instead of Pau Gasol, who started in the five games he had played since he made his debut for Barça on April 9 against Bayern. Oriola had to give more speed to his team’s game, especially near the rim.
Zenit could not count on their Lithuanian center Artura Gudaitis, injured. The inner couple formed for the occasion by Will Thomas and Black intimidated in an extraordinary way. Barça only scored two of their first nine shots of two. The nerves spread in the Palau, with the Zenit very lively, effective and a defense that gave them good dividends (13-19) and relativized their first four failed triples.
The small details, a pressure throughout the field, the entry of Smits, who damaged the defense of Zenit with his outside shot, that of Davies, the one who best knew how to take advantage against the centers of the Russian team, and that of Bolmaro, that jammed the Russian engine room, helped mark a turning point. Barça took a run in the second quarter (34-25).
Higgins came out of slumber with a basket at the end of the first half and a two plus one at the beginning of the second that gave his team an income of ten points (41-31). Barça adjusted better in their markings.
Xavi Pascual has managed to make his team capable of tightening the nuts despite all the regrets, of missing a lot of 3-pointers (7 of 27), of conceding 44 free throws to Barcelona. The defense, the Pangos handle, the synchronization in offensive actions in which he almost always used up the time of possession allowed him to get good returns from his few hits in the triples. With two in a row by Pangos and Hollins he took the lead again (53-54) already in the last quarter. Barça rebuilt and seemed to have the game in hand when a second free kick from Mirotic, who had missed the first, made it 66-62 with a minute and a half to go.
But Higgins and Mirotic missed Barça’s attacks and Will Thomas and Pangos put the tie at 66 on the scoreboard. Pangos blew Zenit’s final attack with a shot that crashed into the basket. The Canadian guard, despite these specific failures, was once again the one who structured his team’s game. He added 23 points, although he only scored one of the seven triples he threw, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. In extra time, they decided the five points and the two steals of the ball from a providential Hanga.
Barça: Calathes (3), Higgins (15), Abrines (0), Mirotic (8), Oriola (6) -starting team-; Davies (22), Hanga (5), Bolmaro (7), Smits (6), Kuric (9) and Claver (0).
Zenit Saint Petersburg: Pangos (23), Hollins (12), Rivers (4), Will Thomas (17), Black (9) -starting team-; Zakharov (0), Baron (7), Khvostov (0), Zubkov (2) and Poythress (4).
Partial: 13-16, 25-13, 10-19, 18-18 and
Referees: Lamonica, Javor and Panther. They eliminated Black (m. 42) and Calathes (m.44). They pointed out a technique to Jasikevicius.
Palau Blaugrana. Behind closed doors.
CSKA got their qualification for the Final Four on track by beating Fenerbahçe (78-67) and making it 2-0 in the tie. The Moscow box dominated thanks mainly to Hackett and Shengelia. The Italian guard got 14 points and gave 8 assists. The Georgian power forward contributed 11 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists.
Fenerbahçe had Marko Guduric as their main offensive strut. The Serbian player surpassed his Euroleague scoring record with 27 points, four more than his previous mark in a match against Maccabi in 2018.
CSKA Moscow: Hackett (14), Strelnieks (8), Kurbanov (10), Shengelia (11), Eric (5) -starting team-; Lundberg (9), Hilliard (0), Ukhov (6), Antonov (3), Voigtmann (3) and Clyburn (9).
Fenerbahçe: De Colo (9), Mahmutoglu (2), Guduric (27), Barthel (9), O’Quinn (0) -starting team-; Brown (6), Biberovic (6), Pierre (8) and Sipahi (0).