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The game between Barça Regal and Partizan lived up to all expectations. Two teams with talent and a bright future treated the fans to a great high tempo game, packed with individual skill, action and excitement. A memorable display by Marcelinho Huertas in the first half gave way to the resolution of Jawai and Navarro. Strong pressure from the visitors broke the flow of Barça’s game from time to time but Pascual’s men seemed to have clinched the result when they led by 15 in the fourth quarter. However, the pride and effectiveness of the Partizan players kept the local fans on the edge of their seats until the last second.
A young and enthusiastic Partizan team took the Palau by surprise. The visitors took off like a rocket, taking the rebounds, finding good shooting options and racing to a 0-7 in the opening minute. Muesli widened the gap to 9 before 11 consecutive points from Marcelinho levelled the scoreboard (15-15, min 6). Barça Regal forced steal after steal and attacked in spectacular style, ending the first quarter (23-15) with a game-changing partial of 19-2.
Marcelinho on fire
The second quarter started much like the first and Barça’s lead narrowed (23-20, min 12). Andusic was the man in form and the Serbians fought back to level the scores (26-26, min 14). The game was good to watch but lacking control. Xavi Pascual was forced to call time out and bring back Marcelinho again to impose some order. The Brazilian continued with the golden touch and immediately chalked up 5 points.
Despite the pressure, Partizan defended in good order and largely neutralised Barça’s inside game and at the same time provoked plenty of personal fouls. A 3pt from the omnipresent Marcelinho matched by a 2 +1 from the visitors left the scoreboard at 37-37 at halftime. Marcelinho went back to the dressing room with a haul of 19 points.
Three points festival
Xavi Pascual was looking to get more punch from his tall men and the second half exploded into life with a two-handed dunk and then another big slam from Jawai. Navarro joined in the fun with three consecutive 3pts (50-42, min 24). The team seemed to have put the poor percentages behind then since the 6.75 at the beginning of the campaign. Confidence was at a peak and Barca would jump ahead again with two 3pts from Wallace and Navarro, signing off a 15-partial. Meanwhile, an unstoppable Jawai gave the team balance and enabled Barça to cruise to a relatively comfortable lead (67-55, min 30). Sada scored the final 6 points of the quarter.
Partizan fight back to a heart-stopping finale
Despite the 12-point gap, Partizan had already done enough to prove that Barça would relax at their peril. At first, Barça Regal kept Partizan at bay with a combination of attacking inspiration and concentration in defence. But after a good start, three losses of the ball alerted Pascual to the danger (74-62, min 34). Partizan weren’t giving up. Three 3pts from Bertains brought the gap back down to single digits (78-72, min 37).
The final minutes of the game were open and Barça found themselves stranded on 78 points and on the wrong end of a 0-11 partial. With just a minute left on the clock, both teams produced surreal 3pts (83-80, min 39). The final seconds were nerve-racking and Partizan would even have the chance of equalising at the last gasp. But in the end Barça kept their cool to ensure an exciting, spectacular and important victory.
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