Brizuela accelerates to try to overtake Mirotic.Juan Carlos Hidalgo / EFE
The magic effect of the Cup was uncovered in the last match of the quarterfinals, spectacular, intense, about to ruin all forecasts. Barça suffered the unspeakable to quell the rebellion of Unicaja, a real gale with a name and surname, Darío Brizuela. Until the last bars of extra time, and when Brizuela himself was punished with a foul in attack, with 98-93 on the scoreboard, the game was not sentenced. The Catalans will face Baskonia this Saturday in the semifinals (7:00 p.m., Movistar; Real Madrid and Tenerife play the other duel at 4:00 p.m.)
The team that is setting the pace in the Euroleague and that has not lost in the League since 1 December had a hard time to overcome the sinking with 10 defeats and one last victory before appearing in Madrid as ninth classified in the league tournament. Barça had to come back 20 points in the first quarter, lost their footing again when it seemed that they had already resolved (79-70) and did not finish off until that unfortunate final action by Brizuela. The lack of attack with which he was punished for contacting an arm with Higgins's chest riled up the San Sebastian shooter and led to the expulsion of his coach, Fotis Katsikaris. It was a lackluster end to an extraordinary match, starting with Brizuela himself, who scored 33 points, the best mark of his career
Barça began to play the tournament that so much proclaimed his favoritism from the astonishing minus 20 with which he hit him Unicaja (9-29). Jasikevicius's team was stunned by the stampede Unicaja used from the opening jump. Brizuela took the handle and did almost everything. He tempered the rhythm with the ball all the time, moved the Barça defense and drilled it with triples, innings almost always culminating with balls pumped directly into the basket and the occasional pass to the pivots, especially inspired by Rubén Guerrero from Marbella. Uncomfortable Mirotic
Brizuela's superb monologue marked the future of the game from the first quarter, with a gap that is rarely so huge. The gap left Barça a herculean task for all that was left. And even more so if one takes into account that Mirotic did not feel comfortable at almost any moment of the game and could not exercise the leadership that he is used to. He scored a crucial 3-pointer that broke the tie at 84 with 43 seconds remaining. But then a free kick missed that allowed Unicaja to make the most of the 17 seconds that remained to force the extension with an Abromaitis basket from under the rim.
The game started and ended with Brizuela. The talented 8 was perfectly accommodated in the device that Fotis Katsikaris arranged. The Greek coach placed all the pieces according to the San Sebastian guard, the axis on which his entire team turned. That style of attack confused Barça, which allowed everything that appears in the script of any scout. In that uneven first quarter, he conceded relatively comfortable 3-pointers to Brizuela, some to Waczynski and also to Jaime Fernández when he got into action. And in his changes in defense, he led Mirotic to become Brizuela's marker, in a most damaging duel for Barça. In addition, Unicaja closed well, its zone blocked the Barcelona attack and completely dominated the rebound. PP Jasikevicius changed his quintet and the defensive device. Oriola destabilized the inner wall of Unicaja, Abrines executed from the maximum distance and Higgins lunged with his penetrations. Barça reversed the dynamics of the game. Unicaja no longer dominated with such intensity on the rebound, and he missed all four of his 3-pointers in the second quarter. Barça came close to three points (39-42).
Unicaja, after the break, regained its frenetic pace, again riding an unleashed Brizuela. The difference rose again based on triples from the Malaga team (55-65). Barça survived with a couple of outside shots from Abrines and a succession of baskets from Calathes, undetectable at times for the defense of Unicaja, who scored 11 points in the third quarter
Hanga's defense over Brizuela and the pressure on the players Unicaja's exteriors turned off the Malaga team at times. Barça finished the comeback after 37 minutes of play. Jasikevicius' team, with Davies emerging after many minutes invisible, enjoyed the euphoria of their temporal superiority and opened a gap of nine points (79-70). But neither Brizuela nor his companions had said their last word. His effort was moving, admirable. It earned them a well-deserved extension, although they failed to complete the surprise.
Barça, 103; Unicaja, 93
Barça: Calathes (17), Higgins (22), Kuric (7), Mirotic (16), Pustovyi (0) -starting team-; Davies (10), Westermann (5), Hanga (6), Smits (4), Oriola (5) and Abrines (11)
Unicaja: Díaz (9), Brizuela (33), Waczynski (10), Carlos Suárez (5), Guerrero (10) -starting team-; Deon Thompson (3), Jaime Fernández (7), Alonso (0), Abromaitis (6), Nzosa (4) and Bouteille (6). Partial
s : 15-29, 24-15, 21-21, 28-23 and in the extension, 15-5.
Referees: Pérez Pizarro, Manuel and Serrano. They expelled Katsikaris (m. 44) and signaled technical fouls to Alberto Díaz, Waczynski and Brizuela. Eliminated: Díaz (m.39).
WiZink Center in Madrid.
Jasikevicius: “We have known how to suffer”
Cory Higgins's nine points in the five minutes of extra time weighed more than Darío Brizuela's 33 from end to end a major match. Both players spent 32 minutes on the court in a battle to reach the semifinals of the Copa del Rey that became a question of survival. "We went out to see them coming, but then we knew how to suffer," summarized Álex Abrines in his analysis of the two hours against the tide that Barça lived to recover the 20 points of disadvantage with which he paid for his initial lack of concentration. "We have survived and there is a tomorrow," explained Sarunas Jasikevicius before developing a self-critical speech. “We suffered a lot. I'm sure I've done something wrong as a coach in preparing the team. We spoke before the match that the bad dynamics of Unicaja did not count in a tournament like this. The Cup is a different competition. But I have not reached my players with the message, "said the Barça coach. Jasikevicius mentally had 24 hours to prepare for the semifinal against Baskonia, but in the fast-paced outcome against Unicaja he had advanced the night and had only 21 hours left. "We have to improve our discipline mentality," Jasikevicius continued. “Baskonia is a very physical team. In their quarterfinal game they took Penya out of the field. So we will have to improve a lot because playing like this we will not beat Baskonia ", analyzed the Barça coach, who kept survival in the tournament as the only positive aspect.