Reunion after 168 days: FCBB hosts favorites Barça

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168 days have passed since Bayern Basketball last encountered FC Barcelona, and it ended a playoff series for a place in the EuroLeague Final Four that was spectacular in every respect: The favorites won 81-72 at the Palau Blaugrana at the beginning of May against the German playoff team, which, like the year before (against Milan), only missed the huge upset late in the fifth game.

"That was a great series, we made it to the deciding game and then were only a quarter away from the Final Four," said head coach Andrea Trinchieri ahead of Tuesday night's (20:30.) reunion at the Audi Dome. Now it's still early in the season, the Italian is hoping the clash in the packed Audi Dome (last tickets online and box office) will be another step forward:

"I hope that we improve significantly again, this time especially on offense, where we are missing ten, twelve points as a team at the moment. But even if we manage a significant improvement, it won't guarantee us anything against Barça. But more important to me than the scoreboard at the moment is the team's development, and that's what we're working on."


Still without Bonga and Harris

Training is very limited this week: Already on Thursday, the next game is against a similar caliber, Olimpia Milan, at the Audi Dome in Munich, and already on Saturday evening, the FCBB has to play in the Bundesliga on the road at Hamburg.

There was praise from Trinchieri during the media talk for European rookies Freddie Gillespie and Cassius Winston (pictured).
There was praise from Trinchieri during the media talk for European rookies Freddie Gillespie and Cassius Winston (pictured).

But first, Tuesday for a game where the favorite has not changed. Barcelona is the big favorite against Munich, which is still short of players. "We are still missing both," said Trinchieri on Monday in the media talk about the still injured Isaac Bonga (foot) and Elias Harris (adductors) while the the participation of Zan Mark Sisko (thumb) and Paul Zipser (cold) is uncertain.

Praise for Gillespie und Winston

However, the Bavarians, who lost against Fenerbahce (74-62) and in Bologna (66-63), have taken a tailwind from the Cup success in Bamberg and Trinchieri especially praised the two European newcomers Freddie Gillespie and Cassius Winston: "In the EuroLeague they meet bodies and a physique that is new for them, but in Bamberg both were really good."

Barcelona, defeated by Olympiakos Piraeus in the semifinals of the 2022 Final Four, has kept an elite core together and strengthened itself once again with great quality. Center star Jan Vesely (all-time: 10.9 ppg, 5 rpg) who came over from Fenerbahce and his Czech compatriot Tomas Satoransky who returned to Barça after five NBA years and Nikola Kalinic who left his hometown club Red Star Belgrade after one year again because of the offer from Calalonia shape the star club. And after MVP Nikola Mirotic recently suffered a serious injury, they also made a high-quality signing in EuroLeague-tested big man Mike Tobey (Valencia, among others). Also new to the squad is Oscar Da Silva, most recently of Berlin.

With the two Czechs Vesely & Satoransky (from left) Barca has strengthened itself this summer.
With the two Czechs Vesely & Satoransky (from left) Barca has strengthened itself this summer. (c) Molina

Barcelona's revenge against Real

After losing the Supercup against archrival Real Madrid and one defeat each in the ACB (in Gran Canaria) and the EuroLeague (80-70 against Olympiakos), the team of coach Saras Jasikevicius seems to be back on track: In the top League, the beat REal 75-73 in the Clasico last week, so the balance is even again.

In the Spanish league, the 18-time Spanish champs stand at 3-1 after the 101-78 in Manresa where center Sertac Sanli, Lithuanian playmaker Rokas Jokubaitis, Da Silva (14 points each), Alex Abrines (12), Cory Higgins and Vesely (11 each) scored in double figures.

FCBB veteran Othello Hunter says, "It's going to be a very tough game. They have so many veterans with them, plus new strong guys: Satoransky has also returned and Vesely has come in making this team very balanced. It's a Final Four team and they're playing for the title after being close for a couple of years now. They're going to play aggressively, with a lot of post-up, and we just have to match their energy. Nobody can think about themselves there - we have to play as a team and if we do a lot of things right, you can win a game like that. But it can only be done through aggressive defense and without fear. We have to help our teammates, be disciplined on defense and offense and read the game: When you're open don't hesitate to shoot."


Photos: Stickel, FCBB, Molina

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