Trinchieri's men play their hearts out and still lose 81-72
The historic upset failed to materialize, but all hats are off for this performance: The Bayern Basketball team lost Game 5 for a place in the EuroLeague Final Four on Tuesday night in the sold-out Palau Blaugrana despite a rousing, fighting performance - the playoff series goes 3-2 to the title favorites. In a fascinatingly intense game the outsider demanded everything from the Spanish noble team around superstar Nikola Mirotic and led 37-31 at halftime before Barça's depth prevailed and won 81-72.
37-31 ahead at halftime
In the stupefying din of almost 7,500 Catalans, the first seed opened 7-2 - but the Bavarians were in the game and kept their cool, 17-11 after eight minutes. The favorite scored via its giant-like big men and a fierce exchange developed early on. Barcelona grabbed a few more rebounds and open shots but the Munich team toiled against all odds and went into the break with confidence thanks to Ognjen Jaramaz's buzzer-beating three-pointer (17 points).
Topscorer Hunter hits from three
But 128 seconds after the restart the lead was evaporated (38-37). Mirotic tried to take over and the FCBB only managed five points in five minutes against a tough defense. The 61-48 score (28th) was the highest deficit and they lost the quarter 29-15. Andrea Trinchieri's men around top scorer Othello Hunter (18/2 threes) left their heart on the floor - but the difference was ultimately made from beyond the arc (50 to 36%) and the overwhelming abundance of quality in last year's finalist, led by Argentine Laprovittola (26).
FC Barcelona - FC Bayern Basketball 81-72 (31-37)
Othello Hunter (18 Points), Ognjen Jaramaz (17), Nick Weiler-Babb (10), Zan Mark Sisko (8), Vladimir Lucic (6 Punkte, 10 Rebounds), Deshaun Thomas (6), Andreas Obst (5), Augustine Rubit (2), Leon Radosevic, Gavin Schilling, Jason George, Nihad Djedovic.
Laprovittola (26 Points)
Borys Ryzhyk, Mehdi Difallah, Olegs Latisevs
Quotes:FCBB head coach, Andrea Trinchieri: "First of all, I want to congratulate Barcelona. They played a great third quarter, like a championship team plays, and are going to the Final Four. I wish them all the best for that. My second thought goes to my team: I have never been so proud of my players as I was today. We could talk about mistakes for hours, but they played three unbelievable quarters tonight and went over our limit as far as they could. The third quarter cost us the game. We tried to attack the basket but couldn't get to the free throw line. The other factor was Laprovittola's night; he put in an incredible performance. I'm not depressed - I'm more proud than ever of my team. There was just another team on the court with them and they played masterfully in the third quarter. That's why they won. (...)
I told my team not to have anything left in the tank after this game. They gave everything. Only a complicated quarter after the break prevented us from having a very close game. (...) We were really into this series and came here to win. I don't want to go too far now, I'm just proud of my players and that's the only thing I want to keep from this game. I feel what kind of character my team has shown, trying everything to fight against any disadvantage. Because of their culture and values, I'm so proud. (...)
Othello is a great professional, a true veteran. I think our club has understood very well to stimulate a veteran like Othello. He has given us nothing less than his best, in the locker room and on the court. Together with Lucic, he is our core. I hope I can keep him from retiring for another year. He has now started working with Emilio (Kovacic) on his threes, that was the result today. Players like that are like a good red wine, they get even better with years."Ognjen Jaramaz: "I'm very proud of this team. We've struggled all season, with everything: Corona, injuries - remember, Corey Walden is missing, Hilliard is missing. But we still got to the playoffs, to the fifth game, so I'm very proud. Of course I'm sad about the loss, I think we could have played better in the second half. Barcelona came on well in the second half, we let them get to easy points, which we didn't allow in the first half. The third quarter was the crux. The atmosphere was great and definitely an advantage for the home team." Marko Pesic, GM - FC Bayern Basketball: "Congratulations to Barcelona for this great performance today. Of course we are all hugely disappointed now, but from the bottom of our hearts congratulations to the coaches, to the team for this character, this attitude of never giving up. You saw what home field advantage means, that's what you play for in the regular season. Then added to that was the individual class of Mirotic and Laprovittola, but great respect to the whole team. In the first game we were not there in one quarter, otherwise we were always there. The character of the team is that they never give up. You can only have great respect for these guys." Barcelona head coach,Sarunas Jasikevicius: "Congratulations to coach Trinchieri. I'm glad we have a good relationship. He definitely knows more about wine than I do. Possibly he also knows more about basketball than I do. I'm glad to have an opponent like that. It makes me a better coach. We cut the rotation a lot. We talked about our starting situation with the whole team in the last 48 hours. Because it didn't look good for us. It was important that we didn't get into foul trouble today. Because in the first half it was damn close again. Everyone who plays Euroleague knows how hard it is to get to the Final Four. Now we did it and we have to regenerate to go to Belgrade in our best shape."
Nick Weiler-Babb, Nihad Djedovic, Valdimir Lucic, Augustine Rubit and Leon Radosevic started the historic game in the sold-out Palau Blaugrana. It was immediately apparent that Barcelona wanted to be more concentrated than in game four. Brandon Davies, who had just been moved into the starting five, presented the Bayern defense with a difficult task. But the Munich team didn't let that bother them and started the game well via their guards Weiler-Babb and Ognjen Jaramaz (9-9/5th minute). And then Othello Hunter came off the bench with a show of power. After a magical pass from Lucic, the experienced center flew over Roland Smits and completed an 11-0 run (15-9). Now it was up to Sarunas Jasikevicius' team to respond, which they did after a timeout by the Lithuanian head coach. Like the whole playoff series, the first quarter was neck-and-neck (19-18).
In the second quarter, too, there was no trace of nervousness on the part of the guests. Rather, Nikola Mirotic needed a little luck to let his shaky three-pointer to roll in over the ring. The Trinchieri team, on the other hand, remained attentive and used three steals for easy points by Andreas Obst, Weiler-Babb and Lucic (27-24/16th). The Bavarians unnerved their opponents with a lot of effort double-teams, which was reflected in Barca's shooting percentage. Zan Mark Sisko, meanwhile, hoisted the offense onto his shoulders, sinking two floaters over the much taller Sertac Sanli. An insane three-pointer of the board by Jaramaz put the finishing touches on another outstanding first half (37-31).
Barca turns up the heat in quarter three - Bayern fights to the end
The home side got a first furtive glimpse of the possible Final Four right at the start of the second half with a 7-0 run - timeout Trinchieri. An almost impossible three-pointer by Jaramaz, who almost lost the ball, slowed down the title favorites a bit (44-42/24th). But the Catalans were now hardly to be stopped and hardly allowed an open shot. Nicolas Laprovittola went completely crazy, sank two extremely difficult threes and single-handedly brought it to a 13 point lead in the third quarter. With a lot of effort and wild buckets from Obst and Deshaun Thomas, the guests struggled to somehow stay within striking distance. Nevertheless, the third quarter went clearly to Barcelona with 29-15 (60-52).
In the final quarter, the Munich defense was back on track. It took Mirotic more than two minutes to sink a three-pointer. The problem remained their own offense. Many attacks ended with the shot clock running out and tough finishes. Hunter found the answer under the basket, bringing Jasikevicius to the turf and a technical foul as well (63-55/33rd). At the most inopportune time, point guard Nick Calathes found his touch and also Brandon Davies. Again it was Hunter who kept hope alive with a monster block and two threes (74-65/34th). But slowly the guests ran out of time. With all their experience Barca burned the clock and put the game away with their vast experience and sheer class (81-72).
Photos: Stickel, Eirich, Molina