The Barça won the first semifinal match at the Palau (89-72) against a Youth who could not match the Barça intensity in defense and their control on the rebound (42-26) to take the lead in this tie that will decide one of the finalists. Within the good Barça party as a whole, highlighted the contribution of Turkish Sertac Sanli (16 points) well supported by Davies and a Higgins that every day goes to more.
Both teams started the game with a defensive mentality -Saras put Nigel-Hayes in the game leaving Exum out of the game-, thinking more about canceling the rival than focusing on their offensive game. And that translated into uneven start for both teamswith many easy misses in attack.
Feliz was soon charged with two fouls, and Vives had to come in to lead a much more imprecise Joventut than usual, waiting to stop Mirotic and put Calathes’ leadership in trouble.
More defense than attack
Those defenses prevailed against bad attacks with many inaccuracies. And it was Sanli, with a three-pointer, who was the first to wake up the Barça attack (10-4). Although La Penya finished the fourth better, with a run of 2-7, to get closer to a tight 12-11.
After those initial nerves, it was Barça who clearly took the initiative in the second quarter, with a Rolands Smits, who did damage inside the zone, while Sanli answered from the triple. Too many open fronts for the black-and-whites.
That good Barça moment translated into a 9-2 run, coinciding with Abrines’ triple (23-15) and with Higgins’ doubts, who had to leave the game due to a blow.
Barca wake up
Barça was more successful, finding good positions from a distance and It was difficult for Joventut to arrive in defense. Two more triples from Sanli, clearly the most successful of the Blaugrana in the first half (11) gave Barça their maximum lead (39-27).
La Penya, less effective in defense and with few rebounds, he clung to the free throws to not let Jasikevicius’s escape, that despite the six losses, they went into the break with a nine-point lead (40-31) and with control of the duel, although definitely open.
Two three-pointers by Joel Parra after the break woke Joventut up (42-37) although what he really achieved was to spur Barça and especially Nico Mirotic who scored two consecutive three-pointers, which together with one more from Sanli – the most inspired – led to the azulgrana at their maximum (53-37).
They break the game
A much more intense Barça allowed him keep up the pace and the differences began to grow with the control of the rebound and good interior actions by Davies and then Sanli, who led Barça to total control of the duel at the end of the fourth and practically of the match (69-48).
Jasikevicius took advantage of the final quarter to distribute minutes thinking about the second semifinal match this coming Sunday, again at the Palau (12.30).
Barça, 89: (12+28+29X+20): Calathes (3), Laprovittola (XX), Hayes (7), Mirotic (11), Sanli (16)- starting five-, Davies (13), Martinez (3), Smits (9), Abrines (6), Higgins (9), Kuric (0), Jokubaitis (9).
Youth, 72: (11+X20+17+24): Happy (6), Parra (8), Busquets (2), Willis (11), Tomic (10)- starting five-, Paul (9), Ribas (11), Ventura (0), Vives (7), Birgander (6), Maronka (2).
Referees: Antonio Conde, Luis Miguel Castillo, Alfonso Olivares.
incidents: First match of the Endesa League semifinal, played at the Palau Blaugrana, before 5,786 spectators.