Euroleague: Barcelona Regal heads to Final 4


Barcelona Regal’s Nate Jawai (32) celebrates with teammates after qualifying for the Euroleague Final Four.

And then there was one… Three of the four seats at the table in the Euroleague Final Four have now got occupants, with the final one to be determined on Friday when Olympiacos Piraeus hosts Anadolu Efes Istanbul in the winner-take-all fifth game. In Barcelona, the host club led from the opening tip to final buzzer (other than two ties in the first two minutes) to pick up a win in game five of their series against Panathinaikos Athens, 64:53.

In the early going, the contest was looking like it was going to be a complete blowout as Regal scored at will and the Greens had trouble finding the bottom of the cords. By mid-way through the first frame they had a 14:6 advantage and by the end of the frame they were up 28:14.

It went from bad to worse for the guests as Barça ran off nine unanswered early in the second frame to get up by 19, 37:18. Fortunately for the Greens, a Dimitris Diamantidis lay-up, followed by a jumper from Jonas Maciulis got things moving in their direction. Stephane Lasme contributed four free throws and a dunk over the next few minutes and helped cut the margin to nine, 42:33. Regal’s Nate Jawai dropped in a lay-up to close out the scoring in the first half at 44:33.


Panathinaikos’ Stephen Lasme works to get the Greens back into their game with Regal.

Jawai picked up where he left off and scored the first two in the second half, but was followed by both James Gist and Lasme, both with layups to cut the lead to single digits again, 46:37. Diamantidis scored on a layup as the third quarter was ending, to bring the Greens to within eight, 51:43.

The first tally of the fourth was another deuce from Diamantidis to bring Panathinaikos to only six down, 51:45 with most of the final 10 left to play. Juan Carlos Navarro had something to say about the size of the lead though and connected first on a triple, then a jumper shortly after to push the lead back to 11, 56:45. Mid-way through the frame, Maciulis hit a jumper to pull to within eight and then the clubs exchange three-ball misses for a few minutes. The next score would come rom Maciulis again as he was fouled and knocked down a pair of singles to pull to within six again, 59:53, with two minutes to play. Those would be the last points that the Greens would put up as Barcelona would tally the final five of the frame to wrap up their 64:53 victory, sending the team and their fans into a celebration for qualifying for the Final Four.

A key stat in this contest was the poor shooting from outside the arc by the guests, connecting on just 1 of 16 (6.3%), while Barça hit 8 of 27 (29.6%). They were also outrebounded 46 to 32, including 19 offensive rebounds for Regal.

“We had a fantastic start but they made it really hard for us in the second half. It was tough to play offense against them. We knew it would be a complicated game. They improved in the second half, but we won, which is what matters. We did a good job and even though Panathinaikos was fourth in its Top 16 group, it is a very experienced team. We must rest now. We took it to the limit, physically speaking, in the series. We had a lot of problems, especially what happened with Pete Mickeal, a very important player for us. It was a tough series.” –Juan Carlos Navarro, Barcelona Regal

“You’ve got to give credit to both sides. We played tough in every game, and I think we gave all the fans in Europe what they want to see. They got an exciting series from us. Barcelona came out on top, so congratulations to them. I came into this series thinking that we were going to win, knowing that we were going to win. A lot of people were against us, a lot of people thought Panathinaikos wasn’t going to be the same and nobody expected us to take two wins. Everybody thought we were going to go 0-3. I give credit to the guys, because we fought, and I feel like we could have done better. That’s the frustrating thing. But let’s give credit to Barcelona, because they stuck it out and they ended up winning.” –James Gist, Panathinaikos Athens

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