FC Barcelona will play the semi-finals against Valéncia Basket having come through unscathed from their first match of this year’s Copa del Rey against difficult opposition in Unicaja (82-70). The rebound was a crucial area against Unicaja and Barça came out on top on the night with 34 rebounds won compared to 29 for the opposition. Another reason for the Catalan’s win was the twelve three pointers scored, with six of them coming in the crucial third quarter, compared to eight for Unicaja.
Rice and Eriksson led the charge for the blaugranas and they helped secure a perfect start in this year’s Copa. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing as Bartzokas’ side had to come from behind to establish a lead. Unicaja drew first blood and they stayed out in front until after the break.
Barça’s lack of accuracy at points during the first two quarters allowed the team from Málaga to move ahead with a score of 12-4. Slowly, the Catalans closed the gap with three pointers from Vezenkov and Rice. However, at the end of the first quarter an Alberto Díaz three pointer gave the opposition a 22-17 lead.
The second quarter started with Unicaja building on their advantage thanks to Díaz and Suárez three pointers and a Smith basket, which gave them a 29-21 lead in the 14th minute. In the last few minutes before the break, some mistakes in attack from Joan Plaza’s side and some improved Barça defence saw the two sides go into the break only five points apart (33-28).
Bartzokas’ side changed the course of the game in the third quarter with a breakdown of 30-18 as they dominated in both defence and attack. The scoreboard reflected their dominance and they were soon level after the restart thanks to a Koponen three pointer (33-33).
Barça’s defence was much more consistent and they were ruthless in attack with Rice putting them in front in the 23rd minute with another three pointer. At this point, Eriksson took control with an incredible four three pointers in the third quarter which gave them an eight point lead going into the final quarter (53-45).
Málaga tried hard and got to within three points of the blaugranas in the 34th minute but Barça Lassa dominated the rebounds and they were able to re-establish their lead. A Renfroe three pointer gave them an unassailable 71-61 advantage in the 37th minute. In the end, Barça secured the victory in the quarter-finals with a final score of 82-70.