The Anadolu Efes Istanbul beat (86-88) al Barça at the Palau to end a streak of six consecutive wins for the Catalans in the Euroleague hand in hand, once again, with Vasilije Micic (26 points) and Shane Larkin (19 points).
The Turks dominated the scoreboard from start to finish against a Barça that was never ahead in the light and in which only Nikola Mirotic was up to the game with 24 points. The 17 lost balls of the Catalans weighed too much against a superior rival who always set the pace that suited the game.
The Catalans did not feel comfortable in the first quarter before the game with three short men from the Turks in which Micic found easy shots and penetrated without problems towards the rim and Sanli scored near the rim (10-15, min. 6).
Nikola Mirotic scored the first eight points for his team but the Catalans lacked other offensive weapons against Simon’s good defense of Higgins.
Hanga gave Barça one more speed, which adjusted the difference (18-20, min. 9). But Anadolu Efes reacted quickly with Shane Larkin on the track to put the maximum advantage (20-27 min. 10).
Chris Singleton was the protagonist of the second quarter with his 13 points that allowed his team to extend the advantage until they were ten up (34-44, min. 16). The ex-azulgrana scored from all positions and was able to take advantage of the fact that the Barça defense was more aware of Larkin’s defense.
The Barça advanced its defense to cause the errors of the rival and Brandon Davies appeared to solve the problems in attack of his team. Ten points from the American including a basket from midfield in the last second left the score at half-time at 50-52.
Mirotic resumed the leading role in attack at the beginning of the third period until the game was tied (58-58, min. 24) but the Barça reaction did not go beyond there. A 0-9 run returned control of the match to Anadolu Efes (58-67, min. 29) and planted doubts in the Barça game that it no longer had the right attack in the first half.
Higgins woke up in the final minutes of the quarter to leave the score at 65-72 but the collapse in attack he suffered at the start of the fourth quarter was definitive.
It took him almost five minutes to score his first basket when Anadolu Efes had already put the direct to go up to thirteen points ahead (67-80, min. 36). Larkin runs the game as he pleases and when neither he nor Micic found a clear position Sanli was under the basket to score mercilessly.
Barça tried until the end but their mistakes in the defensive rebound in the last two minutes prevented the comeback. Two 3-pointers by Calathes and Westermann made it 84-86 with seventeen seconds left but Micic secured the win from the free throw line.
86. Barça (22+28+15+21): Calathes (9), Higgins (12), Martínez (-), Mirotic (24), Oriola (6) -starting team-, Davies (14), Westermann (3), Hanga (5), Smits (3), Pustovyi (2) and Kuric (8).
88. Anadolu Efes (27 + 25 + 20 + 16): Micic (26), Simon (4), Beaubois (7), Moerman (6), Sanli (12) -start team-, Larkin (19), Singleton (13), Anderson (-), Dunstos (1) and Balbay (-)
Referees: Belosevic (Serbia), Paternico (Italy) and Nedovic (Slovenia). They eliminated Brandon Davies for five personal fouls (min. 40).
Incidents: match corresponding to day 24 of the Euroleague played without an audience at the Palau Blaugrana in Barcelona.