The first of three games this week saw Barça defeat Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv (83-78) at the Palau Blaugrana. Not an easy game for Saras' men, as Maccabi upped their game in the third quarter. However, a final quarter push saw a resolute Barça win, aided by three key plays by Vesely, Mirotic, and Higgins, who stood out for the Catalans.
Even first half
History foretold an even game, and so it was. Barça went 7-2 up Maccabi quickly came back, scoring 5 without reply. The Catalans may have been losing the ball in attack but they were organised in defence. Ultimately, three pointers by Kuric and Jokubaitis respectively meant the score was 20-15 at the end of the first quarter.
Barça stepped up the scoring in the second and started to pull away from Maccabi on the scoreboard, Higgins scoring four points to aid the cause. In fact, the lead stretched to nine with five minutes left before the break, but the Israeli side scored a last second three pointer to go in only four points down at 41-37.
Tough test before game closed out
Maccabi came out after the break with their scoring boots on (41-42, min. 22), slowly starting to impose their play. However, Barça remained in the game and despite 5/5 three pointers for Maccabi in the quarter complicating matters, they remained in touch (62-67).
The final quarter was an epic battle. The Israelis remained ahead for most of the period but the Catalans were always within striking distance, 68-74 with five minutes to go. Then a slam dunk by Vesely, a 2+1 by Mirotic and a three pointer by Higgins took Barça into the lead (76-74, min. 37). With the Palau crowd roaring them on and Maccabi looking less confident, Barça closed out the game 83-78.
Next up for Barça: Thursday 2 February at 8.30pm CET against FC Bayern Munich, again at the Palau Blaugrana.
Maccabi Tel Aviv, 78
Barça: Satoransky (9), Kalinic (3), Mirotic (11), Vesely (10), Laprovittola (5) – starting five – Da Silva (-), Sanli (3), Tobey (5), Kuric (-), Abrines (8), Higgins (15), Jokubaitis (14)
Maccabi Tel Aviv: Colson (7), Nebo (1), Martin (11), Adams (20), Barldwin (15) – starting five - Sorkin (7), Dibartolomeo (2), Hilliard (11), Braimoh (4)
Quarters: 20-15, 21-22 // 21-30, 21-10
Referees: Milivoje Jovcic, Anne Panther, Mehdi Difallah.