FC Barcelona is going to Istanbul! The team led by Xavi Pascual took advantage of their first ‘match-ball’ in Kazan (56-67) in a game where the Catalans didn’t start off strong but finished by imposing their play. In fact, in the first two quarters Barça were pinned back. Despite the poor first half, Pascual’s team came out in the second determined to take the match through their pace and offensive prowess. It worked, with Navarro as the team’s linchpin, Barça broke Unics’ defence and qualified for the Final Four.
Missing the three-pointers
Despite the good start (5-0 run) from Unics Kazan, FC Barcelona Regal showed themselves to be patient, working well on defence and helping an inspired Navarro on offence. Barça managed to tie the match at 12 points halfway through the first quarter. The Tatar team, using the plan of running out the clock with long possessions and a tough defence, focused on stopping Navarro, was poised to take their first match of the series. The first quarter came to an end with a slight advantage for the home team (19-17).
Jawai’s third personal foul at the start of the second period should have meant that Pascual’s men would have it a bit easier on offence. The exact opposite happened, however. Without Jawai on the court, Barça played their worst offence and were erratic in their shooting choices. Barça, who were lacking rhythm, slow on offence and incapable of scoring a basket through play (the first three-pointer was Navarro’s... 20 seconds before the end of the half) fell flat against a Unics defence that stood its ground. The team did manage to get to the half with only a six-point disadvantage thanks to last-second three pointers from Navarro and Lorbek.
Barça comes out swinging in the second half
The start of the second half started off in the same way that the previous quarter had, Jawai claimed his fourth and final foul which meant he would see the rest of the match from the sidelines. This time, Barça did take advantage. The Catalan side slowly honed their shooting, which got better as time ticket off the clock. Barça was putting in a tremendous effort as they attempted to finish off the series in the quickest way possible.
Barça takes the game
The start of the last 10 minutes of the match was riddled with errors from Unics and a Barça team that could taste qualification. With five minutes left to go, a three-pointer from Eidson left the Tatar side without hope. Unics were tied up on offence and Domercant had nothing left. It was Barça’s moment to kill off the game and clinch a Final Four berth. Another three-pointer from Wallace and two free throws from Fran Vázquez gave Barça a 10-point lead with three minutes left. The Catalans had one foot in Istanbul and Marcelinho’s three-pointer and a subsequent two-point shot finished the game off. FC Barcelona Regal had sealed their qualification to the Final Four.