By Eurohoops Team/ email@example.com
It wasn’t easy but Barcelona got the 84-81 win to start the Liga Endesa semifinals against Unicaja Malaga.
Nikola Mirotic with 14 points was the top scorer of the winning side, while Jan Vesely and Alex Abrines added 12 points each.
It was a sloppy game, but Barcelona got a 26-15 lead and never lost it. A three by Tomas Satoransky entering the last minute gave the hosts an eight-point advantage (82-74).
However, thanks to Yankuba Sima and Tyson Carter, Unicaja made it a three points game (82-79). Nicolas Laprovittola with two free throws for Barcelona and Tyler Kalinoski with two more for Unicaja (84-81) kept things tense until the closing seconds.
However, Kalinoski missed the last of his three free throws on purpose, the ball went out of bounds for Unicaja but in the last possession Sima lost the ball by Mirotic and the game was over. Sima with 19 points was the top scorer of Unicaja.
Oscar da Silva and Oriol Pauli were healthy scratches for Barca. Cory Higgins (back surgery) was ruled out for the rest of the season in early May. Sidelined since December with a knee injury, Augusto Lima remained the lone player out for the team coached by Ibon Navarro.
The Catalonia giant will also host Game 2, coming up on Friday. Moving the series to Malaga, Game 3 will follow Sunday. Game 4, if necessary, is scheduled for next Tuesday. Splitting wins between four matchups, do-or-die Game 5 would be held Thursday, 15 June, in Barcelona.
The other Semifinals series tipped off with Joventut Badalona stealing the homecourt advantage from Real Madrid yesterday, Tuesday. Staying at WiZink Center, Game 2 will be played tomorrow, Thursday.