By Eurohoops team / email@example.com
With nine seconds remaining in the game between Valencia and Barcelona, and his team down, Nikola Mirotic was the one to receive the ball for the winning shot.
Mirotic posted up Maurice N’ Dour, made the small spin, then faked to get rid of his opponent and laid the ball in while also winning the foul. He finished with 26 points to lead Barcelona to a 77 – 76 win after comeback from 15 points down in the fourth period.
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Before scoring the game-winner, Mirotic had dropped five points in a row for the 70 – 67 and 70 – 69. Valencia was up 68 – 53 in the beginning of the fourth period but suffered an 0 – 11 run courtesy of buckets by Thomas Heurtel (8 points, 5 assists).
“It is not easy but listen, I am very proud of our team and the way we competed at the end, even when we didn’t have our best day. We stuck together, played good defense and offensively, we had a fine fourth quarter and this is our team. We demonstrated tonight what we are capable of, so I am very happy,” Mirotic said to EuroLeague TV.
Fernando San Emeterio dropped 17 points for Valencia while Bojan Dubljevic had 14. The latter also 3/9 free throws, including 2/6 in the final two minutes.
Responding to fourth-quarter pressure
In the previous round, Valencia saw another team, Panathinaikos, coming back after falling behind by double figures in the fourth period. The “Taronja” managed to hold in that match, in contrast with the one vs. Barcelona.
For coach Jaume Ponsarnau, it’s all about maintaining the right focus when the game reaches its final lap.
“We have to keep working and find the way to play better down the stretch,” Ponsarnau said in the post-game presser. “We lost with a big basket and are losing close games due to players able to create their own shots. We don’t have this ability and have to build those shots. We were doing details the right way all game long and we had prepared, but suddenly, they get confidence and in a game in which they didn’t find their game, they found three-point shots and started to do things well.
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball