Barca stays perfect as Valencia loses again
FC Barcelona maintained its perfect start to the season by overcoming Valencia Basket 83-77 in an exciting Spanish derby at the Palau Blaugrana, condemning the last-placed visitors to a 0-5 record. It was an intense and closely-fought battle throughout with neither team able to move into a commanding lead until Cory Higgins struck a clutch three-pointer with 18 seconds remaining, giving Barca 6-point margin and sealing the outcome. Higgins top scored with 20 points – half of them from the foul line – while Nikola Mirotic added 17 points and 7 rebounds and Adam Hanga paired 13 points with 6 assists. Jordan Loyd made 4-of-6 three-pointers on his way to a team-high 17 points for Valencia, and Bojan Dubljevic had a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds. Maurice N’Dour and Fernando San Emeterio both scored 11 points in defeat.
Loyd’s first triple was the early highlight as Valencia quickly showed they had come to compete, but a long-range strike from Victor Claver pulled Barca level. Loyd’s second triple gave Valencia a 9-13 edge, but a 6-0 run featuring 4 points from Mirotic pulled the home team back, and Alex Abrines opened up a 21-15 lead with a quickfire pair of deep strikes. Free throws made it closer, and Valencia went inside to Brock Motum and N’Dour to tie it at 25-25 early in the second quarter. Another three-pointer from Loyd gave the visitors a narrow advantage, but Higgins and Mirotic struck near the end of the second quarter to make it 44-41 at the break. San Emeterio converted almost identical three-pointers early in the third quarter, and a three-point play by N’Dour edged Valencia to 52-54. Dubljevic provided 6 quick points as the scoring continued to be evenly shared, and Quino Colom fired a three-point buzzer-beater to make it 62-65 at the end of the third. Hanga netted 5 points in 50 seconds to force another lead change, and Kyle Kuric struck from deep to make it 74-68 with 5 minutes remaining. San Emeterio and Loyd kept the visitors in contention heading into crunch time, but inside the final minute free throws from Brandon Davies and a triple from Higgins secured a hard-earned win for the hosts.
Crunch time makes the difference
Although this game was extremely closely fought throughout, Barcelona had the edge when it mattered the most at the end of each half. The home side ‘won’ the last minute of the second quarter 7-0, and prevailed 7-2 in the final minute of the game.
Valencia erases rebounding frailties
Barcelona headed into the game with a huge advantage in rebounding, averaging a league-best 39.8 points per game compared to just 32.0 for Valencia. But the visiting team showed a great effort to wipe out that difference, and the game finished with Barcelona winning the rebounding battle by the narrowest of margins, 37-36.
Hanga does it all
Adam Hanga was a key performer for Barcelona, with the team’s backcourt injury problems again forcing him to play in an unfamiliar point guard position. He executed that task very well, leading his team with 6 assists and also recording 13 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals.
Barcelona will look to make it six wins out of six with a road trip to face fellow high-fliers AX Armani Exchange Milan on Friday evening. Valencia will welcome LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne to the Fonteta on the same night.
Wednesday, October 30, 2019