Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Barça 84-81 Unicaja: It’s time to go against the current

First chance to limbo. He Unicaja lost at the Palau Blaugrana this Wednesday at the start of the semifinal play-off. Sarunas Jasikevicius’ Barça leads 1-0 after 40 minutes in which Unicaja suffered a bad first quarter that always forced him to go in tow of his rival. Not once in the entire match did Unicaja take the lead on the scoreboard. Of course, he had the last attack to have forced the extension. And that, seen what was seen in the previous 39 minutes and 57 seconds, has a lot of merit.

On an irregular day, in which the team went from less to more, the best thing is that he never lost faith. And that is to be applauded. Above all because that green and purple version that this course has given its fans so much joy was seen dropper. To that Unicaja who is intense at the back, to the one who puts a devilish rhythm in his basketball, to the one who punishes the rival defense from 6.75…

The bad news is that it was lost, but seeing as the glass is half full, the good thing is that the worst Unicaja in recent weeks was one breath away from its rival. A little more success in the triples, a little more success from the free kick or a little more respect from the referee would have been enough to roll the cue at the Palau. It couldn’t be this Wednesday, but the path is marked to be able to try again on Friday.

With Perry handcuffed and without success, with Alberto Díaz still lacking in rhythm, with Kravish at half throttle, with Carter forced to play too much time at base, the team clung after the break to a huge Yankuba Sima, who signed his best game since he dressed in green compositor. The Catalan pivot was a torment for the culé defense and the team’s main scorer, crushing Barça’s basket over and over again.

Ejim, who had time to keep an eye on Mirotic and to do damage in attack, and Kalinoski, who once again showed that he is a total player capable of scoring, rebounding, passing and defending also led the team in those second 20 minutes in which everything was more “normal”.

This Barça is a great team, but it is not invincible. They failed in the Cup, they failed in the Euroleague and now they have to win this semifinal no matter what. An anxiety that can take its toll and come in handy for Unicaja, no matter how much this first point in the tie is already unrecoverable. Not feeling well, Unicaja lacked one more basket to go into overtime and two to win the game. If on Friday the team is able to look more like its normal version… take care!!

Ibon Navarro announced in the hours before that the fight for the rebound would be one of the keys to the game. Well, he wasn’t. There he won the Unicaja long. 49-25. Up to 21 attack rebounds were captured by Los Guindos. It will be difficult to repeat such a balance in the rest of the games in this semifinal, but it is clear that Unicaja is qualified to fight face to face with Barça under the hoops.

Mirotic started the game with success in attack. DAVID RAMIREZ

match with two faces

It was a very different game between the first and the second part. It was very difficult for both teams to score in the first minutes. Barça and Unicaja pushed very hard at the back, put in a lot of hands and set a very high bar physically. Barça was the first to find its place. Abrines’ triples served Barça to open a first hole. Ibon Navarro rotated his five on court looking for more wood in attack, but the team did not finish feeling good. Mirotic and Sanli did a lot of damage and the score skyrocketed in the 10th minute, 26-15.

The low hit percentages from the line of 3, with too many missed open shots of those that always go in, prevented Unicaja from approaching an opponent that continued, point by point, commanding with authority: 32-20. Without Perry’s spark, with erratic shooters and without the chance to run, Unicaja suffered. Barça was able to play their most usual game and the difference went up to 16, which was reduced to 14 at halftime, 45-31. The 3 of 14 in triples by the almost always reliable Unicaja on the perimeter was key to explaining what was seen in the first 20 minutes of the league semifinal, frankly improvable for the green and purple.

Everything changed after passing through the locker room. A promising 0-6 start in the second half forced Jasikevicius to stop the match: 45-39. The best Unicaja appeared to get hooked on the game. The team rebounded, ran and scored. Now yes. Palau was scared with Unicaja breathing down the neck of their rival, 50-47. The contribution of Yankuba Sima at that time was wonderful.

Unicaja feinted and feinted, but whenever he got closer… something happened. A triple from Sanli in the middle of the comeback did a lot of damage. A 2+1 from Jokubaitis, even more. The team rowed a lot, but entered the last quarter with a deficit of 8. A 66-58 that seriously threatened to make it 1-0 in the series.

Navarro’s boys did not give up. On the contrary. The arbitration did not help anything. A simulation of Vesely, which led to a technique for Ejim, it is not very clear why, unhinged the players and the bench. The truth is that it was a night in which luck was not on our side at any time.

A dead time for Ibon Navarro. ACBMedia

desperate ending

The final minutes were a want and I can not. A desperate attempt for a comeback that did not come, but that surely serves to face the second installment of this film much better.

You have to look straight ahead. The defeat is neither final nor should it lower the illusion of the team and of the “green tide” for giving the surprise. What’s more, you have to take all those positive things that were seen in these first 40 minutes of the semifinal. Seeing the glass half full will help to better face Friday. It’s time to improve and face the second game as if it were the last. Because this is a “pim, pam, pum” and in 48 hours you have to play again. There is no time for regrets, but to seek revenge. The objective is to equalize the tie, make it 1-1 and for Carpena to have the floor. Hopefully.


84. Barcelona (26+19+21+18): Satoransky (10), Laprovittola (4), Abrines (12), Mirotic (14), Vesely (12) -initial team-, Sanli (13), Kalinic (2), Tobey (-), Kuric (7) and Jokubaitis (9).

81. Unicaja (15+16+27+23): Perry (2), Brizuela (5), Djedovic (2), Ejim (14), Kravish (4) -initial team-, Osetkowski (5), Kalinoski (12), Barreiro (-), Díaz (4), Carter (10), Thomas (4) and Sima (19).

Referees: Fernando Calatrava, Jordi Aliaga and Francisco Araña. They eliminated visiting Perry for five fouls (min.38).

Incidents: first match of the Endesa League semifinals played at the Palau Blaugrana in Barcelona in front of 5,390 spectators.


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