In the less intense game of the series so far, Barcelona prevailed easily in OAKA last night, to take the series back home and things back to their own hands next week.
Barcelona's coach Xavi Pascual started off where he finished in Game 2, playing a simplistic version of 2-3 zone, which locked Panathinaikos offensive options, mainly Diamantidis' slash and kick and Diamantidis and Lasme pick and rolls.
Barcelona started off the game shooting better than the previous games, taking an early 4-11 lead, which then they expanded to a double score, 10-20 by the end of the first quarter.
Pascual kept Victor Sada on the bench for the entire first half and his team performed better without him, spreading Panathinaikos' defense and not allowing Diamantidis anchor deep inside and disturbing passing lanes. Barcelona's offense became smoother with Jasikevicius in and the score became 16-27. However after asking a timeout, Pedoulaakis fielded a three big-men lineup which allowed Panathinaikos to create mismatches and take the game to the post-up. As a result Panathinaikos cut the visitors' lead down to four, 27-31, at the half time.
Pedoulakis didn't risk the same lineup in the second half and even though Panathinaikos scored the first bicket of the second half for the 29-31, Barcelona kept rolling on both sides of the court and merely increasing their lead. With Tomic dominating the paint, it was 31-39 after three minutes into the second half, while back-to-back three-pointers by Lorbek and Huertas skyrocketed the difference to fourteen points, 31-45. Panathinaikos couldn't hit their outside shots and the Spanish side maintained their lead, relatively easy, 38-51 after thirty minutes of play.
The last quarter was the Navarro show who scored big buckets with an array of ways while Panathinaikos tried one final comeback and took down Barcelona's lead down to eight points, with four minutes on the clock, but it was. Navarro who ended it all with a dagger three-pointer. The rest of the game had a mere ceremonial value and the final 60-70 score perfectly reflects the game image in its entirety.
Game note: Diamantidis became the first guard in Euroleague history to have reached 100 blocks. He is now tied with Maceo Baston.
PS: Something must be done with OAKA's over-capacity. Even though high and sold-out capacities in Euroleague arenas is welcome and much needed, having at least 10.000 more fans inside than the actual seats of the arena is a very dangerous game to play.