Cory Higgins raced up the field like a fury, keeping an eye on the clock, the last seven seconds ticking off. The score was still tied between Barcelona and Milan (82-82) when it rose just after entering the 6.75m arc. His shot pierced the net. Eight tenths of a second later, after the ultimate failure of Kevin Punter, yet the man of the evening for Milan (23 points), who had a moment earlier missed a 3-point shot completely open, Barcelona went into a trance.
There was Michael Jordan in this final ride. Logic, the former star of the Chicago Bulls is none other than the godfather of the hero of the evening for Barcelona, who finished the game with 11 points on the clock, and will admit after the fact that he had “Not had a great game so far”. But it is he, the winger for the two European coronations (2016, 2019), holder of the last title awarded, two years ago with CSKA Moscow, who made the difference during a game more unbridled than anticipated.
Barcelona, eleven years later
It did not matter much in a Lanxess Arena in Cologne in “NBA bubble” mode, without an audience but with a profusion of screens. Because of a “Long bad defense”, said their coach Sarunas Jasikevicius, the leaders of the regular season played their qualification battery or face in the money-time.
Eleven years after their second continental star conquered in Paris in 2010, at Bercy, the Catalans find the final of the Euroleague. And the dream of Pau Gasol, author of 10 points and 3 rebounds in 11 minutes, to add a continental club star to his record of NBA championship titles (2009, 2010), Europe (2009, 2011, 2015 ) and the world (2006) remains alive.
Calathes uncertain, Westermann back?
The basket of Higgins devoted a prolific evening in attack for Nikola Mirotic (21 points) and his family, except in a third period where the Barcelona squandered their lead of nine points acquired at half-time (51-42) and are even found three possessions behind the team coached by the illustrious Ettore Messina, quadruple winner of the event (61-69, 29th).
Their defensive start in the last quarter (11 points conceded) opens the way to the final, where they will have to regain their virtues of best defense of the competition against the team -Efes Istanbul- by possessing the most attack. prolific.
One step away from their Grail, the men of Sarunas Jasikevicius, coach with four European titles as a player, winner with Barcelona in 2003, will nevertheless have to reinvent themselves by Sunday. Because they may have lost, on a sprained ankle which seems serious, their titular point guard Nick Calathès (17 points, 6 assists). This is how we could find on the scoresheet the French Léo Westermann, not aligned on Friday.