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Only the best teams know how to regroup after a poor result and produce the goods when they are most needed. Barça were not as dead and buried as many were saying. They delivered tonight in Greece, and now the series will be decided back home in Barcelona. The 60-70 win at the OAKA in Athens means Barça are just one win away from the Final Four. It’s now down to the famous magic of the Palau Blaugrana to see Barça on their way to London.

Good start

In a game like this, it was crucial to get off on the right footing. And Barça Regal did just that by storming to 4-11 and totally neutralising the Panathinaikos offence, who other than Schortsanitis looked powerless. The 2-3 zone system used by Xavi Pascual was doing big damage, and with a spectacular Joe Ingles converting five consecutive points, Barça looked comfortable at 10-20 at the end of the first period.

Panathinaikos would react, of course, but not before Jasikevicius had helped boost Barça’s lead to eleven (16-27). It was then that Pedoulakis’ rearranged defence started doing the trick, preventing FCB from moving the ball around the centre and resulting in a 7-0 streak to get PAO right back in it. Even so, the half ended with the Catalans four up at 27-31. And the best had yet to come..

Barça break away

Ante Tomic was the man of period three. He dominated the paint, and led Barça Regal’s 0-9 streak that put them well into the comfort zone (31-42). The important thing now was not to let that control slip away, and although PAO fought for a comeback, Barça were having none of it, and were thirteen ahead by the end of a fantastic period. 38-51.

Navarro sentences

Barça soon extended their lead to 17 points (40-57) following an inspired three from Lorbek. The home side produced everything they had and more to close the gap to seven at 52-60 following a basket from Lasme. But it was then that Juan Carlos Navarro appeared to save the day. Two threes from him and it was game over. At 52-66, the Greeks clearly knew there was no coming back, and the clock was allowed to tick down, with it all ending 60-70 and Barça now host game five, with a place in the Final Four in reach, and the added incentive of Real Madrid already having qualified.

La fitxa del partit

PANATHINAIKOS, 60
FCB REGAL, 70

Panathinaikos: Xanthopoulos (0), Diamintidis (0), Maciulis (11), Gist(4), Schortsanitis (13) –starting five- Ukic (4), Bramos (15), Tsartsaris (1), Lasme (12)

FCB Regal: Huertas (10), Navarro (17), Abrines (2), Lorbek (8), Jawai (7) -starting five-; Tomic (16), Jasikevicius (5), Ingles (5), Wallace (0), Sada (0),

Partials: 10-20, 17-11, 11-20, 22-19

Thursday 25, game five

Although it has not yet been made official, the fifth and final game of the series between Barça Regal and Panathinaikos will be played on Thursday April 25 at 20:45 in the Palau Blaugrana.

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