Xavi Pascual/ PHOTO: ARXIU FCB

It was four days ago that Barça Regal were in Istanbul playing in the Final Four of the Euroleague, and this Thursday the team will be back on the court for the playoffs of the Liga Endesa. “It’s a surprise. I believe that an important factor is that we’ve had fewer days to prepare for the playoffs than other competing teams," said Xavi Pascual this Wednesday in the Palau Blaugrana’s press room. The quarterfinal tie is a best of three series and that “makes it very dangerous. We know that the first game is key.”

Pascual recognised that the team’s situation isn’t easy and that’s why he urged his players to present a unified front: “we have to be more united than ever. This is the time to be together and row in the same direction.” The Barça manager reminded the journalists that the team lost last year to Panathinaikos in the quarterfinals of the Euroleague and, weeks later, with the support of the fans, the team went on to win the Liga Endesa.

Eight victories at the Palau

Xavi Pascual is clear about how he’s going to approach the playoffs: “our goal is to win eight consecutive games at the Palau and being ACB champions.” For that to happen, “we have to reaffirm the good form we’ve had in the regular season. We have to go through each round and get to the end with options of winning the Liga.” He added, “up until now we’ve played a few games at home with not a lot of fans in the stands with the hope that when key matches came so would the fans. The playoffs start tomorrow and I encourage all of the season ticket holders to come to the Palau.”

Indebted to the fans

“The group feels indebted to all of the people that have supported us. We know that we can lose, but we lost because we weren’t ourselves in Istanbul and that hurts us,” said Pascual. “We were below our normal level, but we can’t forget that these players took us to that point. It was a tough blow for everyone. The players have the feeling that they let a lot of people down.”

The Barça manager is aware that he and his players are public people and that they are open to critique: “the farther you get, the expectations are higher and, in the event of not fulfilling those expectations, the critiques are harsher. The teams that get lost along the way don’t receive as much criticism.”

Navarro will miss the match

Xavi Pascual confirmed that “Navarro, with almost all probability, will miss the first match. We’ll see how much he will be able to help us throughout the playoffs.” It’s worth noting that the captain re-injured his left foot and didn’t play in the third and fourth place match of the Euroleague

Support for Llompart

The Barça manager also wanted to show his support to Pedro Llomart, Lucentum Alicante’s point guard, who recently lost his mother: “I want to sent him a strong embrace.”

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