Cory Higgins Barcelona
Photo: Euroleague Basketball

With Nick Calathes returning to the OAKA and Nikola Mirotic leading his team offensively, Barcelona gets another 77-85 win on the road against Panathinaikos on Tuesday night (2/3). Coach Jasikevicius and his players moved to 19-8 wins and remained at the top of the Euroleague standings after 27 rounds.

Great hustle from Barcelona in the fourth quarter, fighting for every ball and getting four consecutive points from Smits with two one-handed dunks with Higgins also scoring some crucial points securing a safe lead for Barcelona. Hezonja was the only credible offensive source for Panathinaikos along with Bentil and Mitoglou but that wasn’t enough for coach Kattash and his players to beat Barcelona.

Nikola Mirotic was the top scorer for the guests with 25 points while Cory Higgins added 16. For Panathinaikos, Mario Hezonja was the top scorer in his debut with 21 points with Ben Bentil adding 14 and Dinos Mitoglou 13.

Mirotic leads the way

Barcelona started the match pretty impressively, securing a short lead early in the match. Panathinaikos, with Mario Hezonja registering his first points with the “greens”, was struggling defensively in the first minutes but soon found their rhythm. Nikola Mirotic was flaming hot in the first ten minutes of the match scoring 13 points for Barcelona. The guests extended their lead to nine points (12-21) with Panathinaikos not using their fouls properly making it far too easy for Barcelona. Shot-clock buzzer triple from Bolmaro and a miss shot from Papagiannis closed the first quarter with Barcelona leading by 9 (17-26).

Barcelona survived Panathinaikos’ burst of energy

The guests started the second quarter with a double digit lead with Panathinaikos trying to keep up and not let the game get out of their control (17-28). Hezonja brought some energy on the court for the hosts, playing tough defense and scoring some much needed points (24-31). Ben Bentil with the triple made it a 4-point game putting Panathinaikos back on the match (27-33). The guests found some big buckets with Bolmaro and retained their lead, Sant-Roos hit the triple on the buzzer and Panathinaikos headed to the locker rooms trailing by 8 points (39-47).

Photo: Euroleague Basketball

Increased intensity from both teams

Panathinaikos came back from the locker rooms in the third quarter determined to fight, forcing Barcelona to several turnovers right from the beginning of the quarter. The two teams switched positions with Barcelona strengthening their defense and extending their lead and Panathinaikos committing unnecessary turnovers when they least wanted it (41-50). Shelvin Mack buried the triple for Panathinaikos, with the “greens” getting the call for an offensive foul too (44-52). The hosts increased their intensity on the court, returned back within 8 points and despite a few missed opportunities, they attempted a comeback (44-52). The guests were destroying what they were building, committing turnovers and missing buckets, giving Barcelona the chance to secure a safe lead and close the third quarter up by 9 (50-59).

Barcelona survives the battle of turnovers

Terrific activity by Panathinaikos to begin the fourth and final quarter, with Dinos Mitoglou going strong on offense and scoring crucial points taking the difference down to 7 points (52-59). Aaron White with the triple brings Panathinaikos back within 6 points but Barcelona’s hustle with Brandon Davies secured another crucial possession right before Smits completes two plays with two impressive dunks (55-65). Panathinaikos had repeatedly battled back taking the game to a two possessions battle but Cory Higgins was there for Barcelona to seal the deal and secure the win for the guests (77-85).