Barça and Pau Gasol face their great challenge this Sunday in the Euroleague final against Anadolu Efes (8:30 pm DAZN). The Barça team aspires to win its third European Cup after those won in 2003 and 2010, and the best Spanish player in history to win the only club title missing from its record. The battle will be against a Turkish team that has never been proclaimed champions and that will play their second consecutive final, after the loss last year against CSKA Moscow, which they took revenge on Friday in the first semifinal (86-89) of the Final Four in Cologne (Germany).
Barça, after beating Armani Milan in the second (84-82) thanks to a basket from Cory Higgins with only eight tenths to go, is presented with the opportunity to, after finishing leader of the regular phase of the Euroleague, become in king of the continent 11 years later, in what will be his eighth final of the maximum competition. The last two he played he won, 18 and 11 years ago, with Svetislav Pesic and Xavi Pascual on the bench, respectively, and this time, with Sarunas Jasikevicius as coach, he will fight to prevail over the team that finished third in the regular season and was executioner of Real Madrid in the quarterfinals. “One of the best teams in the competition,” as Pau Gasol recognized this Saturday, while for the Lithuanian Barcelona coach Anadolu “is even better rival than yesterday (Armani Milan), especially in attack” .
The grand final will face the second best team in attack – Anadolu has an average of 84.1 points per game – with the best in defense – Barça concedes 73.2 points per game. with the memory for the Catalans of the two games they lost this season against the Ottoman team. Barcelona fell 86-79 in Istanbul (with 23 points from Shane Larkin and 17 from Vasilje Micic) and 86-88 at the Palau (26 from Micic and 19 from Larkin). Pau Gasol was not yet in the Catalan team and the Blaugrana top scorer and the most outstanding player of the Catalans in both duels was Nikola Mirotic, author of 18 points and eight rebounds in the Turkish city and 24 goals and five captures in Barcelona. last February 4.
Micic, the most feared
Three weeks later, the return to Barça of Pau Gasol became official, who in the semifinal against Milan collaborated with 10 points and three rebounds, as the fourth highest scorer for his team, surpassed by Mirotic, Catathes and the savior Higgins. The Anadolu led by Ergin Ataman nevertheless finished off CSKA thanks to 25 points and six assists from the feared point guard Micic and 19 points and eight rebounds from center Sertac Sanli. Former Blue Chris Singleton made only one free throw in nearly half an hour against the dethroned champion.
«We have to improve the defense a lot. Yesterday (on Friday) we only defended well in the last quarter (17-11). We have to be much more physical and more focused, “claimed Jasikevicius this Saturday, who until before the final will not know whether or not he can count on Nick Calathes, a victim of a sprained right ankle against Milan. While waiting for the physical condition of the American base of Greek origin, in the Barça team the focus will be on the principle, especially in Mirotic and Gasol, who near the age of 41 is facing one of their biggest and most longed-for challenges. «Every challenge in my career has been different. This one, without a doubt, is very special, and I want to give it my all ”, proclaims the power forward from Sant Boi, who returned to Barça 20 years later to prepare for the Tokyo Games and win the European Cup with his team. life and is 40 minutes away from fulfilling another dream.