A soft and disconnected Barça, lacking in intensity, playing in bursts of inspiration, gave life to the European champion, a touched Anadolu Efes, at the bottom of the Euroleague standings. The good form was of little use to the blaugrana, having the best defense of the last four games, to end up conceding 96 points, partly due to the scoring festival of the Micic-Clyburn couple, authors of 46 points.

The Blaugrana team arrived in Istanbul at a sweet moment, with 10 victories in the last 11 games among all competitions, which has allowed them to be third in the Euroleague. While the current two-time European champion had had a poor start, with 2 wins and 5 losses. “But they always start like this, then they raise their level of play a lot,” warned Sarunas Jasikevicius. “You don’t have to pay much attention to these results,” he had warned. And so it turned out.

The Blaugrana team had a good first quarter (16-22). Despite getting two opening 3s from Micic and Bryant (6-2), the reaction was great. From Beaubois’s 8-5 he went to Kalinic’s 11-18 in just 3m23s; a devastating partial of 3-13 thanks to the success of a motivated Sanli in his old fiefdom (from 2018 to 2021). The Turk scored 6 points and 4 rebounds in the blaugrana comeback, seconded by the 8 points of a great Kalinic, who also put a cap on the giant Pleiss (2.21m) who scored a 7-meter triple. Thus, Barça reached a maximum income of 9 (13-22) with Higgins’ first basket; rent lowering Dunston to 6 over the first quarter buzzer.

In the second sleeve the duel was readjusted. The good Blaugrana defense of the first round was diluted at the beginning and Efes hooked up with Beaubois and Micic, who began his particular scoring duel with Laprovittola (4-7 for the Argentine). Dunston, a rocky built-in cabinet, returned the lead to Efes (26-25), the match entered a take-and-take phase with an exchange of blows, with great ease for the Turks, especially from a very inspired M’Baye (3 /3 in triples).

The Frenchman, with 11 points in the quarter, opened a small gap of 4 (40-36, 45-41). For Jasikevicius the partial of the second set was worrying: 29-19. He would have to correct many shortcomings in the dressing room. For example, defending better on the perimeter: he had conceded 8/14 three-pointers (57%) from Efes, the differential fact, despite continuing to dominate the rebound (17 to 11), and improving outside success (5/16, 31 % in triples).

After the break, Barça started with doubts, stuck and with the greatest disadvantage, on the 12th, which gave them an 8-0 run with a three-pointer from Micic, a clap-off from Bryant and another three-pointer from Clyburn (53-41). Even more difficult. The blaugrana did not carburetate neither in defense, nor in attack, nor in the technical direction, without ideas.

An unsportsmanlike attack by M’Baye, at 3m32s into the fourth, led to the Blaugrana reaction: 2 free throws from Kalinic and a three-pointer from Abrines brought Barça back into the fight (53-46) with a 0-5 play. He from being dead to recovering his breath.

But the blaugrana comeback attempt was a mirage, because a series of free throws by Micic allowed Efes to soar again at 13 (62-49), with 10 points from a run by the Serbian, MVP of the last Euroleague and of the final four. It was the maximum distance for the Catalans, with just 2 minutes and a quarter ahead to recover it. A disadvantage that they fixed two final triples by Abrines and Sanli to put a more affordable 9 (66-57). Although the fourth had been deplorable: 21-16 for the Turks.

In the last episode, Barça became desperate to shoot three-pointers to cut the ground on the fast track, but even for those, the aim was disastrous. Jasikevicius was no longer flinched on the bench when he saw the 14th (71-57), the biggest disadvantage of the night. Even so, the Blaugrana team did not give up. Stumbling he climbed onto the neck of the Efes. A triple by Higgins and 10 points in a row by Laprovittola put Barça within 8 points with 3m30s to go (82-74). He returned to the game. But for a short time. Between Micic and Clyburn, 46 points between the two, they put things back on track: 90-76 with 2 minutes to go. Miracles, to Lourdes. Not a triple from Laprovittola with 50 seconds to go that was close to 6 points (92-86) made Efes nervous.

Anadolu Efes: Micic (22), Beaubois (5), Bryant (16), Polonara (5), Pleiss (0); Taylor (4), Clyburn (24), Dunston (7), M’Baye (13), Zizic (0).

Barça: Satoransky (3), Laprovittola (28), Kalinic (10), Tobey (0), Sanli (18); Higgins (14), Abrines (9), Da Silva (0), Vesely (0), Jokubaiti (2)s, Oriol Paulí (2).

Referees: Lottermoser, Paternico and Kardum.

Quarters: 16-22, 29-19, 21-16, 30-29.

Pista: Sinan Erdem Sports Hall in Estambul.