Bucket of cold water at Palau Blaugrana

Olympiacos beat a less solid Barça than usual

Barça, 75 – Olympiacos, 77

  • Barça: Satoransky, Laprovittola (9), Kalinic (6), Parker (13), Vesely (3) – starting five; Da Silva (4), Rubio (10), Hernangómez (13), Abrines (11) and Jokubaitis (6). Coach: Roger Grimau.
  • Olympiacos: Walkup, Canaan (14), Peters (1), Sikma (4), Fall (11) — starting five; Williams-Goss (15), Wright (4), Larentzakis (2), Brazdeikis (2), Petrusev (12), Milutinov (3) and McKissic (9). Coach: Georgios Bartzokas.
  • Partial results: 18-19 / 17-25 / 19-17 / 21-16.
  • Referees: Damir Javor, Tomislav Hordov and Rain Peerandi.
  • Eliminated: Walkup and Fall.
  • Pavilion: Palau Blaugrana. 7.328 spectators.

A team to make against a done opponent. Barça opened the Euroleague quarter-final tie with a loss against Olympiacos (75-77). The Greek side took advantage of their good defence to alter the level of play of Roger Grimau’s men, who did not have the usual success. The 19 balls lost were a burden for the locals, who were not comfortable with the refereeing criteria and lost the court factor.

“We improved our defence in the second half, but we weren’t comfortable in attack,” said Roger Grimau, who ruled out Oriol Paulí and Joel Parra and left Dario Bizuela and James Nnaji out of play.

The match between Barça and Olympiacos was a duel of styles. While the Catalan team tried to shake up the game and speed up the pace, the Greek side looked for a way to bring the match down to the mud. Georgios Bartzokas, who had Kostas Papanikolau off, tried to collapse the paint to limit the local scoring. The manager played during many phases of the match with three small outsiders.

Olympiacos showed defense and muscle during a first half that was long for Barça. It took the Blaugrana more than five minutes to score their first basket, and the Greek team took advantage of the situation to build a seven-point lead (4-11). The reaction of the locals was slow to arrive and was related to defensive improvement. When Grimau’s men felt safe at the back, their offensive game also improved (25-23).

Missed balls and low shooting percentages were a burden for Barça, who had no offensive continuity. Alex Abrines’ triples were one of the only positive news during a stretch of the game of clear visiting dominance. Without running, Barça’s energy was too intermittent. Olympiacos were more effective on static attacks, allowing them to take a ten-point lead before halftime (34-44). Filip Petrusev scored 12 points in just 10 minutes (35-44).

Far from relaxing, Olympiacos stepped up their defense during a third quarter in which the visiting lead reached 13 points (47-60). A 7-1 final half by Barcelona adjusted the score (54-61). The Blaugrana went close to three points away but did not complete the comeback and nerves took over the Palau Blaugrana. More mature, the Greek team knew how to stay calm in a final stretch that became a rollercoaster of emotions. Mistakes prevented the home win.

Before the tie moves to Piraeus, the second game of the quarterfinals will be played this Friday, again at the Palau Blaugrana, where Barça have only lost three Euroleague matches this season: against AS Monaco, EA7 Emporio Armani of Milan and Olympiacos.

A dedicated Palace

The Palau Blaugrana experienced a magical atmosphere, in which its fans started the night singing the culer anthem a cappella. The club gave a scarf with the slogan “Road to Berlin” to each fan. One of the most booed visiting players was Isaiah Canaan, who had already taken over the stands in 2021, when during a match with Unics Kazan he sought to silence fans with a controversial gesture.

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