Barcelona secures 5th place, learns playoff opponent
FC Barcelona Lassa beat visiting Buducnost VOLI Podgorica 95-83 to secure a fifth-place regular season finish on Thursday night at Palau Blaugrana. Barcelona, which improved to 17-12, will face Anadolu Efes Istanbul in the best-of-five playoffs. Adam Hanga paced the winners with 18 points, while Rolands Smits contributed with a career-high 14 points. Ante Tomic collected 11 points plus 9 rebounds in the victory. Danilo Nikolic netted a career-best 25 points on 5-for-7 three-point shooting for Buducnost, while James Bell and Nemanja Gordic had 11 points apiece in defeat.
Gordic and Nikolic each scored a pair of baskets early before back-to-back triples from Bell and Edwin Jackson made it 6-16. Hanga scored 10 first-quarter points, including consecutive threes, to get Barcelona going. A triple from Smits late in the first and a downtown shot from Pau Ribas to start the second quarter gave Barcelona its first lead, 24-22. Smits then strung together 7 points, scoring twice from close range and hitting from long distance. Pierre Oriola followed it up with a three of his own for a 38-26 advantage. However, Buducnost answered with a 0-8 run that saw Bell and Nikolic hit threes and Bell knocked down another to put the visitors back in front, 41-42. Buducnost went into halftime up 44-46. Threes from Nikolic and Norris Cole made it 46-52. However, Hanga fueled a 9-0 run and the hosts never trailed again. Kyle Kuric and Thomas Heurtel were in the main roles for the hosts, while Gordic hit a pair and Cole another three-pointer for Buducnost. Singleton's triple made it 72-69 after three quarters. Kevin Pangos hit back-to-back shots from behind the arc to open the fourth. Nikolic knocked down a jumper and his fifth three-pointer to cut the deficit to 4 points, but Tomic and Smits scored from close range to make it 89-78 with 3:28 to go before Barcelona closed out the game.
Learning its playoff opponent
The EuroLeague playoffs have their first pairing: Anadolu Efes Istanbul vs. FC Barcelona Lassa. Efes will have the home-court advantage. Efes secured fourth place last week with a win against Buducnost and now Barcelona secured fifth place also with a win against Buducnost. Interestingly, while Efes had never before won a playoff series, Barcelona has never won in the EuroLeague playoffs without home-court advantage.
Rolands Smits scored in double digits for the third time in the last four appearances. He has now played in 10 games during his rookie campaign and in this one in less than 16 minutes on the floor had 14 points and a PIR 16, both career highs.
Barcelona tied for a season-low 14 personal fouls in this game. No Barcelona player committed a foul until there were 2.9 seconds left in the first quarter.
Did you notice?
Buducnost starting forward Earl Clark and center Goga Bitadze watched this game in civilian clothing from the bench. Clark had started all 28 games this season for Buducnost until this one.
Buducnost will finish its participation in this season’s Turkish Airlines EuroLeague with a road game against Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, in which the Greens will be trying to clinch a playoff spot. Meanwhile, Barcelona ends the regular season at home against Khimki Moscow Region.
Thursday, March 28, 2019