Higgins, Mirotic lead Barcelona past ALBA
FC Barcelona remained undefeated by downing ALBA Berlin 103-84 in its home opener at Palau Blaugrana on Friday. Barcelona improved to 3-0 in the standings while ALBA dropped to 1-2. Cory Higgins led the winners with 22 points. Nikola Mirotic added 18 while Ante Tomic had 15 on 7-for-7 two-point shooting for Barcelona. Rokas Giedraitis led ALBA with 17 points. Peyton Siva got 12, Tyler Cavanaugh had 11 while Niels Giffey added 10. Landry Nnoko and an outstanding Giedraitis allowed ALBA to shake off a 6-0 start and get a 19-25 margin after 10 minutes. Giffey soon gave the guests a double-digit lead, 19-30, but Mirotic and an unstoppable Higgins – with 11 points in 7 minutes – put Barcelona ahead, 46-44, at halftime. Mirotic took over with 9 quick points after the break, getting plenty of help from Tomic to boost Barcelona's lead to 68-50 late in the third quarter. Nothing changed after that, as Barcelona cruised to a convincing home win.
Tomic got Barcelona going with a couple of close baskets that Adam Hanga followed with a fastbreak layup for a 6-0 lead. Cavanaugh struck from downtown and Giedraitis followed a corner triple with a three-point play to get ALBA within 10-9. Mirotic answered with a layup-plus-foul but a jumper by Kenneth Ogbe ignited a 0-7 run that Luke Sikma capped with a bomb from beyond the arc that gave ALBA its first lead, 13-16. Giedraitis took over with another three-point play, getting help from Ogbe and Nnoko to boost ALBA's lead to 19-25 after 10 minutes. Giffey followed a triple with a jumper to make it a double-digit game, 19-30, early in the second quarter. Pierre Oriola and Higgins tried to change things for the hosts, and a layup-plus-foul by Tomic gave Barcelona hope at 28-32. Giffey hit a three-pointer but Mirotic struck twice from beyond the arc in an 8-0 run that Higgins capped with a layup for a 36-35 Barcelona lead. Higgins kept pacing Barcelona with a triple and a four-point play. Sikma, Giedraitis – twice – and Victor Claver also struck from downtown to fix the halftime score at 46-44. Nnoko tied the game after the break, 46-46, but Mirotic took over after that with a three-point play and 2 bombs from downtown, good for a 55-47 Barcelona lead. Tomic scored twice down low, Claver added a second-chance layup, and Oriola downed an alley-oop that broke the game open, 63-50. Oriola scored again before a three-pointer by Higgins capped a mammoth 22-4 run. Cavanaugh and Tim Schneider brought ALBA a bit closer, 72-61, after 30 minutes. Kyle Kuric hit a couple of jumpers and Abrines added a three-pointer for a 79-64 Barcelona lead early in the fourth quarter. ALBA never gave up and tried to erase its deficit but Higgins stepped up to seal the outcome, 84-66, long before the final buzzer.
Higgins came off the bench and made the difference, scoring 22 points in less than 20 minutes. He hit 3-of-6 two-point shots, all of his 4 attempts from downtown and 4-of-4 from the foul line. He added 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 5 fouls drawn for a PIR of 28.
ALBA tied the game for the last time, 46-46, right after the break. That is when Mirotic decided he had enough, following a layup-plus-foul with a couple of three-pointers. He had 9 points in a 22-4 run that made it 68-50 and put the hosts in charge for good until the final buzzer.
Barcelona scored 25-of-43 two-point shots (58.1%) and limited ALBA to just 8-of-24 shooting (33.3%) inside the arc. Those 8 two-point shots is ALBA's all-time low in the EuroLeague. It had previously scored 9 against Idea Slask Wroclaw on November 12, 2003. Barcelona outrebounded ALBA by 48-24. Those 48 rebounds are a EuroLeague season high.
Did you notice?
It was ALBA head coach Aito Garcia Reneses's first EuroLeague road game at Palau Blaugrana. Garcia Reneses coached Barcelona for 13 seasons in three different stints, winning nine Spanish League titles, five Copa del Rey trophies, a Cup Winners Cup and two Korac Cup crowns. His previous EuroLeague game at Palau Blaugrana was with Barcelona, against Scavolini Pesaro on April 18, 2002 – 6,392 days ago!
In Round 4 next week, Barcelona visits Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade in the Serbian capital on Thursday, while ALBA hosts reigning EuroLeague champion CSKA Moscow on Friday.
Friday, October 18, 2019