Barça are now going to have to win in Athens if they are to make it into the Final Four
Navarro, with 20 points, was Barça’s main man on a night that they failed to stop Diamantidis in the final moments
La fitxa del partit
Barça Regal, 65
Barça Regal: Sada (6), Navarro (20), Ingles (3), Lorbek (7) i Tomic (6) -starting five- Jawai (4), Abrines (10), Jasikevicius (2), Huertas (5), Wallace (2).
Panathinaikos: Xanthopoulos (0), Diamantidis (10), Maciulis (5), Tsartsaris (1) i Schortsanitis (4) -starting five-, Ukic (8), Lasme (9), Gist (14), Bramos (13), Banks (0)
Periods: 11-16, 21-11, 18-21, 15-18
A wake-up call. One of those defeats that really hurt. Things didn’t work out right and Barça Regal lost at the Palau to Panathinaikos, 65-66. That means it’s 1-1 in the best-of-five series, and FCB will now have to win at the OAKA in Athens, the venue for games three and four. Diamantidis was once again the key as he converted a 3-pointer with eight seconds to go to win a game that Barça looked to have under control. Jasikevicius had the chance to throw for glory, but this time, luck was not on his side.
Like on Tuesday, it was Panathinaikos who looked strongest early doors, with Xanthopoulos on from the start in an attempt to wear down Navarro. The Greeks flew to 5-10 with Schortsanitis scoring in the zone and Maciulis claiming the night’s first three, with the Barça defence struggling to keep the visitors’ gigantic centre in check. But as the home side started finding their game, triples from Sada and Ingles edged them in front (11-10). But it was still Pedoulakis’ side that was in charge, and they ended the period with a five-point lead, 11-16.
That all changed in the second quarter. Even though PAO started powerfully (11-19), Barça Regal were soon making good of the Abrines effect, whose three pulled them back into contention. Then a Lorbek 2+1 levelled affairs, and eventually Barça moved into the lead for the first time through Huertas (26-25). Just before the break, a sudden spell of brilliance from Jawai and Navarro, the latter scoring a last second beauty, meant Barcelona ended the half with a five-point lead (32-27).
Barça break away
Barça seemed to have learned their lesson in the first half for after the restart they had clearly corrected their method for defending against Schortsanitis, and in the blink of an eyelid had flown thirteen points clear at 40-27. But this was no time for counting unlaid eggs, especially against a team that plays as well as Panathinaikos, who with a majestic 5-18 streak led by Gist and Ukic managed to quickly reduce that margin to nothing. Abrines once again produced the goods in times of need, and his five consecutive points meant Barcelona ended the third with a two-point lead at 50-48.
Diamantidis makes his mark
The last ten minutes had a bit of everything, but more than anything, nerves. Panathinaikos drew first blood through Diamantidis (58-60, min.35). Then Navarro helped swing things back Barcelona’s way (64-60), before a Bramos three meant it was all going to go down to the wire. Diamantidis converted a 3-pointer with just eight seconds left. Barça needed to find something in return, but Jasikevicius’ 3-point attempt missed the mark, and it was all over at 65-66. That means the Greeks gain home court advantage and Barça Regal will need to win at least one of the two games in Athens if they are to have any hope of keeping alive the dream of a trip to London for the Final Four.