Nico & Niko send Barcelona to the Final Four

2022-05-03T21:49:26+00:00 2022-05-03T23:48:54+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

03/May/22 21:49

Bayern Munich fought hard for more than one half but the firepower of the two Nicks was all that Barcelona needed.

By Eurohoops team /

Nicolas Laprovittola dropped a EuroLeague career-high 26 points and Nikola Mirotic scored 20 as Barcelona defeated Bayern Munich 81 – 72 in Game 5 of the EuroLeague playoffs to win the series 3-2 and qualify for the Final Four for a second straight year.

35-year-old veteran Othello Hunter was the one to lead Bayern with an inspiring and often self-sacrificing performance that summarized his team’s overall efforts in the series. The American big man finished with 18 points while Ognjen Jaramaz added 17 points, including some near-impossible 3-pointers, for the Bavarian side that competed hard but was unable to stop Laprovittola and Mirotic from doing damage after the break.

“I think we reacted at halftime,” Laprovittola said. “We attacked the third quarter with very good defense, we improved on offense and our decision-making and we played with character in the second half. Everybody was intense. Everybody was giving 100%. This is the way we have to play.”

After winning Game 4 with a spectacular defensive performance, Bayern carried this momentum to lead 31 – 37 at halftime in Game 5. Barca opened the second half with a 7-0 run and Mirotic gave the hosts their first lead in the game before “Laprovittola time” took over.

The Argentinian guard scored 11 points over the last five minutes of the third quarter as his team went up 60 – 50. He and Nick Calathes – who had all of his 10 points plus four out of his five assists in the second half – then combined to put Barcelona up 68 – 55 while Bayern looked more and more out of sufficient options to respond.

Hunter tried to rally Bayern for one last stand but Barcelona retained a safe advantage, never allowing its opponents to close their gap to more than seven points.

“We can talk for hours about this mistake or that, but tonight we put together three unbelievable quarters playing above our limit and playing as hard as we can,” Bayern coach Andrea Trinchieri said. His team made the playoffs for a second consecutive season and once again fell to a powerhouse after five games. “The third quarter cost us the game. We tried to attack the rim, we never went to the line. The other factor was Laprovittola who tonight really put together an unbelievable performance. That’s it. I don’t feel depressed. I don’t feel overwhelmed by the situation. I have never been more proud of players and my team. There is also another team on the court and in the third quarter, Barca was a championship team and this is the reason they won the game.”

Wine and basketball

Barcelona coach Sarunas Jasikevicius commended his players for advancing to the Final Four despite facing numerous problems the last couple of days and also commended Andrea Trinchieri for both his wine and basketball knowledge.

“Congratulations to our players and fans,” Jasikevicius said. “To our players for an incredible effort in the last 48 hours. It seemed at some moments that everything was against us. A lot of players with injury problems, a lot of players with virus problems, a lot of players passing the last couple of nights in the hospital. To our fans for creating this amazing atmosphere. As we say over here in the club, something it’s Palau, we are not Serbians, we are not Greeks, but Palau in grandes noches as we say over here is Palau that is a huge factor. So congratulations to the fans. I think they really enjoyed today, I want to also congratulate Andrea and Bayern. One of my favorite coaches. It’s good that I have a good relationship with him. For sure he knows more about wine than me. Possibly he knows more about basketball than me. I was just happy with this competition. I think it made me a better coach and I’m very happy that we passed and now off to new objectives.”