By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
Coming back from a 13-point deficit after the break, undermanned FC Barcelona overcame Nemanja Nedovic and defeated Panathinaikos OPAP, 85-82, Thursday evening.
Nikola Mirotic finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and one steal starring in his side’s third consecutive away win versus the Greens.
Nicolas Laprovittola excelling in an upgraded role logged 18 points behind 6/10 field goals, including four triples. The Argentine point guard banked in 11 points in the first quarter.
“Both point guards – me and Rokas [Jokubaitis] – are doing a very good job,” he pointed out after the game, “We miss Nick [Calathes], but we have to take a step forward. And we are doing that.”
With Nick Calathes, Cory Higgins, and Alex Abrines already sidelined, Sergi Martinez sprained his right ankle against Crvena Zvezda mts Tuesday, and Nigel Hayes-Davis tested positive for COVID-19. A challenging situation, especially at the bottom end of the latest Turkish Airlines EuroLeague two-game week, but the leaders of the standings went up to 14-2.
“We know how difficult the situation is with all the injuries. But this is a great opportunity for all the guys – especially the young guys – to step up. It’s a unique situation,” explained Mirotic, “We have to do everything we can until those guys get back. But we are winning, which is the most important thing. We have to stay humble and keep working. I definitely feel more responsibility, which is something normal.”
Pulling down 15 offensive rebounds was key in the seventh win in a row in Europe’s premier club continental competition. Barca outrebounded its opponents, 38-31, at OAKA Altion.
“We really reacted after a very bad defensive first half, 49 points, a lot of penetrations to the right, a lot of layups, a lot of meaningless fouls. It was not good, the first half. We set out the goal to get a good defensive quarter and we did it, allowing PAO to only score 15 points. Obviously, it helps when you score 27 yourselves,” summed up Sarunas Jasikevicius, “We managed to change the game. In the end, we should be a little bit smarter, that’s the only negative. But I understand my guys. It’s been a long trip and everything. It’s a tough situation that we’re in.”
Nedovic returned to action with 18 points and cut the deficit to one point with a late screamer off the board. His second long three-point attempt missing the target wrapped up proceedings.
Captain Ioannis Papapetrou tallied 16 points in the Regular Season Round 16 losing effort. Howard Sant-Roos had 13 points, including ten in the second half. Giorgos Papagiannis ended up with 11 points for the team guided by Dimitris Priftis. Jehyve Floyd remained sidelined with a left hip injury.
“It’s a pity for us because we really made an effort. They fought. We deserved to get the win tonight,” said Priftis, “Unfortunately, we lost our concentration in two basic things: first of all on defensive rebounds. We were not consistent. We let them have second-chance offenses. And they are a very high-quality team. And when you give them this opportunity they will not miss it a second time. And at certain times in the second half, we should be more patient. We tried to force some things in certain moments. We should be more patient and move the ball more.”
“The most important problem for us was the rebounds, the many rebounds we lost,” added Jeremy Evans following his eight points powered by 4/4 twos, “When the players on the other team enter the paint and do not feel the contact, it is ugly. We need to be more prepared in the third period, with more energy, and serve our plan properly. It’s something that has happened many times. We have to look at it.”
The team coached by former Panathinaikos player, Jasikevicius, is now 7-2 on the road with four consecutive wins. Back at home, Baxi Manresa comes up Sunday in the ACB and UNICS Kazan Wednesday in EuroLeague’s Round 17.
“I would like to thank PAO fans for welcoming me at a time like this,” mentioned the Lithuanian tactician, “I love them just as much as I feel their love. Hopefully, this will never change.”
After being forced down to 4-12 with the third defeat at home this season, the Greens will take on Promitheas staying in Athens and aiming to jump to 8-1 in Greece’s Stoiximan Basket League Sunday before focusing on arch-rival Olympiacos visiting Thursday.