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Barça Regal booked their place in the Final Four at the O2 Arena in London next month after a hard fought game.London will host Barça’s 13th Final Four in Europe as the team look to take their third Euroleague title.

A good start is essential for success and this Thursday, Barça dominated from the off with NavarroHuertas and Ingles setting up an early 17-10 lead- Pascual’s team set up a 2-3 zonal defence and looked focused and committed as they strangled the Greeks’ attack – weakened by the absence for long periods of Diamantidis because of personal fouls. With Ingles looking sharp, Barça were well worth their 28-14 first quarter lead .

Superb second quarter

If the first 10 minutes were impressive, the second saw perhaps the best basketball of the season, with a Joe Ingles score putting Barça a massive 19 points ahead. 37-19 up, Barça’s mental toughness and sharpness had Panathinaikos really on the ropes.

This was the quarter finals though and Pedoulakis’ men weren’t going to take it lying down – hitting back with a 5-13 partial score to reduce the difference below the psychologically important 10 point margin(42-33), before two points from Jawai lifted the Palau crowd and sent Barça 11 points up at the break (44-33).

Gist marks Navarro

Panathinaikos sprang a surprise with James Gist, a versatile 2.06 metre versatility man covering Navarro and with his physical prowess limiting the Catalan’s influence. Barça weren’t looking so comfortable now and Panathinaikos made it clear they were back in the game and ready to make the best of any opportunity.

The scoring slowed down, as did the possession time, as both teams went head to head. Every score was a triumph as both defences pressured to create mistakes and Barça went in 51-43 up heading into the final quarter.

Suffering in the last ten minutes

It needed one last effort to ensure the place in London and although legs began to tire and Barça had to call on heart as much as head, Navarro grabbed a three and a two pointer to re-establish a 56-45 lead with six minutes left to play. The game slowed down even more and with three minutes left, the difference stood at eight points(59-51). Something special was needed to clinch the game and Marcelinho Huertas stepped up to the mark with a three pointer when there was just 90 seconds left to give Barça a nine points lead (62-53) and secured a ticket for London.

BOXSCORE

FCB Regal, 64
Panathinaikos, 53

FCB Regal: Huertas (10), Navarro (15), Abrines (2), Lorbek (6) i Jawai (9) -cinc inicial- Tomic (5), Wallace (0), Jasikevicius (6), Sada (0), Todorovic (3).

Panathinaikos: Diamantidis (6), Ukic (7), Maciulis (9), Lasme (16) i Tsartsaris (4) –cinc inicial- Bramos (3), Gist (6), Banks (2), Schirtsanitis (0).

Partials: 28-14, 16-19, 7-10, 13-10


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