Baskonia snaps Barcelona's winning streak
Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz ended 2021 in the best way possible as it emphatically defeated FC Barcelona 94-75 to snap the league-leader's nine-game winning streak. Baskonia put together the first run with 16 straight points to open a 10-point advantage in the second quarter. The margin was down to 4 in the third, but Baskonia went on a 17-6 run and the advantage grew as high as 25 points. Rokas Giedraitis led the way with 20 points for Baskonia, which won back-to-back games for the first time since winning Rounds 3-5 early this season, and improved its record to 7-11. Wade Baldwin IV added 18 points, Simone Fontecchio scored 14 points, Steven Enoch and Matt Costello both chipped in 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Jayson Granger tallied 10 points. Baskonia was led by assistant coach David Gil since head coach Neven Spahija was not available due to COVID-19 protocols. Barcelona, which had beaten Baskonia by 26 points at home in Round 9, dropped to 15-3 despite Nikola Mirotic scoring 19 points. Sertac Sanli added 13 points, Nicolas Laprovittola scored 12 and Rokas Jokubaitis 11 points in the loss.
Brandon Davies opened the game for the visitors with Giedraitis hitting from deep for Baskonia’s first score and first lead. A three-pointer from Laprovittola and 5 points by Mirotic put Barcelona ahead 8-12. A Giedraitis triple put Baskonia back ahead only to have Laprovittola answer with 5 points for a 13-17 lead. Lamar Peters joined the three-point party as Baskonia went up 18-17. Sanli took advantage of a mismatch against Fontecchio with 4 points and Barcelona led 20-23 after 10 minutes.
Jokubaitis hit a three-pointer to start the second quarter and extend Barcelona’s lead to 6. Baskonia stepped up its defense and Costello took over offensively with 9 points. Granger’s three-pointer completed a 16-0 run over nearly 7 minutes, which included two Barcelona timeouts, for a 36-26 Baskonia advantage. Mirotic’s triple ended the drought and started a 2-8 spurt to close within 4. But Costello continued his fantastic quarter with a putback at the buzzer and Baskonia led 40-34 at the break.
Baskonia scored the first 5 points of the second half with Fontecchio’s three-pointer making it 45-34. Mirotic drained one from deep as Barcelona needed nearly 2 minutes to score. Mirotic added another triple but Giedraitis and Fontecchio answered with three-pointers and Giedraitis’ three-point play had Baskonia up 56-44. Barcelona couldn’t get any production from anybody other than Mirotic while triples from Baldwin and Peters and a Fontecchio fastbreak dunk increased the margin to 18 points. Jokubaitis scored 4 points, but Giedraitis knocked down two more three-pointers and it was 74-54 after 30 minutes.
Enoch’s free throws started the final stanza with Sanli answering from deep at the other end. Enoch scored again and the gap was up to 82-57 with 8 minutes to play. Baskonia remained concentrated and did not let Barcelona get closer than 18 points - at 88-70 with less than 4 minutes remaining.
Matt Costello shines again
The difference was made in the second quarter when Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz outscored FC Barcelona 20-11 with Matt Costello shining especially in that period. He collected 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting and also grabbed 7 rebounds in the second quarter. The center finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double in the EuroLeague to go with an index rating of 16. This came after he poured in a career-high 23 points to go with 9 rebounds and a PIR of 25 in a full 40 minutes in Baskonia’s win over FC Bayern Munich last week.
Mirotic not enough … Higgins not ready for more
While Matt Costello was Baskonia’s main man in the second quarter, Nikola Mirotic seemed like Barcelona’s only man in the third quarter. He scored all 10 of Barcelona’s points in the first 5 minutes of the quarter before a Brandon Davies basket. Then it took until the 2:24 minute mark for the next Barcelona player to score. The game did feature the return of Cory Higgins, but he was not ready to contribute enough to really help - scoring 2 points with 1 rebound in nearly 9 minutes in his first game since Round 8 on November 4.
Barcelona defensive slump continues
Barcelona came into the game with the No. 1 defense, having allowed just 76.1 points per game. But Baskonia was the third straight team to score at least 82 points against Barcelona. Baskonia scored a season-high 94 points after averaging just 70.1 points before the game - the second-fewest in the league. Baskonia dished out 24 assists and shot 46.7% on three-pointers - 14.3% higher than its average this season, which was 16th. Baskonia also committed only 7 turnovers in the game. It’s also of note that the No. 1 scoring team in the league was held to 75 points - 10.2 points below its average.
Thursday, December 30, 2021