By Eurohoops Team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
A 10-0 sprint in the fourth quarter put FC Barcelona in charge in Palau Blaugrana on Friday.
Narrowly holding on down the stretch, the team guided by Roger Grimau defeated Valencia, 74-70, and improved to 7-2 in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season.
Despite 5/30 three-pointers, the task of bouncing back from Wednesday’s loss to fellow ACB rival Baskonia was completed. Struggling to connect triples, relying instead on defense produced the win.
Czech Jan Vesely led all scorers with 17 points behind 7/9 shots, including 7/8 two-pointers for EuroLeague’s all-time leader in makes from inside the arc. Limited to four points after the break, his last bucket restored a two-possession advantage with 31 seconds on the clock.
“I am very happy we reacted to the game in Baskonia. I think it was a very very bad game for us in every aspect,” Vesely commented on returning to the win column and sitting alone in the second place of the standings behind undefeated Real Madrid.
“Today, we did not have a good percentage from the three-point line. That makes this victory more important,” mentioned Alex Abrines after shooting 1/7 himself en route to emerging as the second double-digit scorer of the winning side with 12 points.
In control for most of the 40 minutes, Barcelona peaked at an 11-point cushion late in the first quarter. Finally holding off the visitors made it 5-0 in home games against Valencia and also 5-0 in home games overall in the 2023-24 installment of EuroLeague.
“It is really difficult to play against Valencia. They are very physical. Sometimes we found good shots and sometimes we collapsed a little bit,” noted Grimau, “But in the end, we found the solution we wanted.”
The team coached by Alex Mumbru was forced down to 5-4 with a third loss in a row, including Real Madrid on Tuesday. Stefan Jovic rolling his right ankle and exiting with 4:32 left in the fourth quarter added to a rough evening. Chris Jones tallied a team-high 15 points in Barcelona.
“We fought. We played great and we were happy because we fought. But we arrived a little bit late to the game,” said the losing play-caller.
Valencia sits Kassius Robertson
Despite missing Jared Harper (left hamstring) and Martin Hermannsson (left knee surgery), fellow guard Kassius Robertson was also left out of Mumbru’s lineup for the Round 9 contest. The Canadian guard was limited to 3.2 points per game with 19% from the field over eight appearances in his debut EuroLeague campaign. Oriol Pauli was a healthy scratch and Michael Caicedo (right foot surgery) remained out for Barcelona.
From the double-game week to Round 10 of Spain’s Liga Endesa, both sides have a game on Sunday, looking to improve to 8-2. Barca visits UCAM Murcia and Valencia goes to Baskonia’s Fernando Buesa Arena. Back to continental action, the Catalonia outfit meets Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv behind closed doors in Belgrade and the Oranges take on Panathinaikos in Athens next Thursday.
Photo Credit: EuroleagueBasketball.net