Sanli and company imposed their quality through defense.
Barça recovered its best defensive version this Friday to sweep Joventut (89-72) in the first game of the Endesa League semifinals, with the outstanding contribution of Sertac Sanli (16 points, 8 rebounds and 24 PIR credits).
The Turkish pivot, with four triples without fail, led the Barcelona escape in the second quarter (39-27, min. 18, maximum advantage of the first half) in a very inspired Barça team from the perimeter (13 of 28, for 7 of 26 green-black).
The scoring breakthrough of Nikola Mirotic and Brandon Davies (11 and 13 points, respectively) broke up the match in the third quarter (73-50, min. 32) in favor of the Barça side, who won the battle for rebounds (46-26 ).
Without the chance to run, Andrés Feliz and Ante Tomic deactivated (4 and 10 points, respectively), Joventut, overwhelmed by Barcelona’s intensity, had Pau Ribas and Derek Willis as their top scorers (11 points).
With all the players available after recovering Sanli and Álex Abrines, coach Sarunas Jasikevicius left Pierre Oriola out of the squad and replaced Nigel Hayes-Davis, ruled out in the quarterfinals, to the detriment of Dante Exum.
Barça took to the court with the lesson learned after the recent defeats against Joventut, determined to overcome the green and black team in physical aggressiveness in an initial quarter marked by the defenses.
Nick Calathes and Mirotic built the first Barça advantage (5-2, min. 5), consolidated with four points in a row from Cory Higgins (12-6, min. 7), but La Penya punished a phase of mistake in the shot and two losses at Barça to tighten the score at the end of the first ten minutes (12-11).
The connection between Davies and Rolands Smits, a striker in the low post (at halftime, 5 points and 5 rebounds), added to three triples by Rokas Jokubaitis, Abrines and Sanli extended the Barça lead to double figures (31-20, min. fifteen).
Without the possibility of running, Carles Duran opted to play the block and continue in central position to strengthen the pivots, a successful way of scoring that Barça deactivated with the return to the court of Calathes and Sanli, lethal in the outside shot (11 points and 3 triples without failure, top scorer at halftime).
After reaching a maximum deficit of twelve points (39-27, min. 18), Joventut lowered the deficit at halftime from the free throw line (40-31), led by Pau Ribas (8 points).
Joel Parra boosted Joventut with two three-pointers in a row after passing through the locker room, but Mirotic replied with the same medicine (8 points in the third quarter) and a block on Simon Brigander that made the culé fans get up from their seats (53-37 , min.24).
Durán’s time-out failed to unblock La Penya in attack, forced to try forced shots due to the intensity of Barça’s defense, driven by Davies’ dominance in the paint (7 points in a row) at the end of the third period (69- 48).
The bureaucratic last quarter (80-59, min.35) sealed a new defeat for Joventut at the Palau Blaugrana (89-72), where they have not won since November 2, 2014. This Sunday, on the same stage, the second semi-final matchup.
– Data sheet:
89- Barca (12+28+29+20): Calathes (3), Laprovittola (3), Hayes-Davis (4), Mirotic (11), Sanli (16) -initial team-, Davies (13), Sergi Martínez (3), Smits (9), Abrines (6 ), Higgins (9), Kuric (-) and Jokubaitis (9).
72-Joventut (11+20+17+24): Feliz (6), Busquets (2), Parra (8), Willis (11), Tomic (10) -initial team-, Paul (9), Ribas (11), Ventura (-), Vives (7), Bassas (-), Birgander (6) and Maronka (2).
referees: Antonio Conde, Luis Miguel Castillo and Alfonso Olivares. They eliminated the visitor Vives for five fouls.
Incidents: first match of the Endesa League semi-final series played at the Palau Blaugrana in Barcelona in front of 5,786 spectators.