Friday’s convincing 89-72 win over Zalgiris might have been the turning point in Barcelona’s Top 16 campaign after a subpar start.
The Catalan side were extraordinary in the regular season. In a highly competitive Group C, they won eight straight contests before finishing with a 9-1 record.
Barcelona’s best form in the Euroleague though has normally been reserved for the Top 16. In the last two seasons, the Liga Endesa champions’ record in the second stage has been 25-3, which included 24 consecutive successes.
But unlike the last two Top 16 campaigns, where Barcelona have been near indomitable, they haven’t found this season’s stage all that simple. Heading into this past Friday’s clash with the Lithuanian champions, Barca were 2-2 and struggling to find the form that they had in the regular season.
The win over Zalgiris though saw a different side and that might be the turning point.
“Right now, every win is important. We had a 2-2 start in the Top 16, losing twice on the road, and every game is really important, like a final,” Barcelona’s Tomas Satoransky said.
“We are happy because we were able to play with high intensity all the way and get a good win. We had a very good start, especially on defence, and that was the biggest key to this game. We worked really hard this week, focusing on defense and attacking the passing lines with aggressiveness.”
Barcelona returns to domestic action this weekend as they host struggling Bruixa d’Or before their next big test: a Euroleague encounter with bitter rivals Real Madrid at the Barclaycard Center.
Unfortunately for the Catalan side, their away record so far in the Top 16 has been poor, as they have dropped the first two games on the road. ALBA Berlin and Euroleague champions Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv have both tasted success against Barcelona and to win titles, Barca know that they must improve their form away from the Palau Blaugrana.
“I think we have mainly a mental problem and we do not react well on the road,” Bostjan Nachbar said. “When playing away we do not things well as we do at home. If we want to win titles this season we have to start winning on the road.”