Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona rally for victory

Nikola Mirotic’s first season with FC Barcelona is filled with impressive achievements. Already, he’s won two Spanish Liga ACB monthly MVP awards (October, January). And last week he became the first player to collect four EuroLeague monthly MVP accolades, following a stellar December when he bagged the honor for the third time.

On Sunday, Mirotic was once again in fine form with a 17-point, five-rebound, three-steal effort in a team-high 26 minutes. The savvy Montenegrin forward helped carry FC Barcelona to a 74-67 victory over Movistar Estudiantes in Madrid.

Nikola Mirotic in action during a recent game.

FC Barcelona (19-4 in the Spanish Liga ACB) mounted a strong comeback to secure the victory and maintain its grip on first place. Second-place and defending champion Real Madrid, which defeated Zaragoza 74-70 on the same day, is one game back in the standings.

Comeback story

With a determined across-the-board effort, the 29-year-old Nikola Mirotic, who spent five seasons in the NBA, and his teammates staved off an upset against the league’s cellar dwellers.

Estudiantes (5-18) played well in the early going. As a result, the hosts pulled ahead by 11 points in the opening half.

On the other hand, FC Barcelona fell behind 44-35 after four minutes in the third quarter.

To earn the win, FC Barcelona needed to turn it up a notch.

An Alex Abrines bucket put the visitors ahead 55-52 at the WiZink Center.

Then, in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, Adam Hanga drained a 3-pointer to give Nikola Mirotic’s team the lead for good, 61-58.

FC Barcelona earned a dramatic 83-80 victory over Bayern Munich in EuroLeague action on Thursday, with Mirotic leading the way with 28 points.

FC Barcelona’s Cory Higgins goes up for a layup attempt against Movistar Estudiantes.

Key performers

For FC Barcelona, Hanga contributed 14 points and nine rebounds, Cory Higgins finished with 12 points and Kyle Kuric chipped in with 11 points in 19 productive minutes. Pere Oriola snared nine rebounds. Pau Ribas had four boards, three assists and a steal in 10 busy minutes. Abrines poured in seven points.

For Estudiantes, Aleksa Avramovic had 18 points and seven rebounds. Victor Arteaga added 14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks and Edwin Jackson supplied nine points and five assists. Phil Scrubb matched Jackson’s scoring total, while Phil Pressey had six points.

Up next

Nikola Mirotic and his FC Barcelona teammates face off against visiting Zalgiris Kaunas in a EuroLeague contest on Friday.

Nikola Mirotic’s February numbers

For Nikola Mirotic, who suited up for the Milwaukee Bucks last season, February’s EuroLeague MVP numbers consisted of the following: averaging 21 points and six rebounds per game in four continental tournament matches, including against Valencia. He shot 57.4 percent from the floor, 42.9 percent on 3-point shots and 87.5 percent at the free-throw line.

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