Barça-Zalgiris, between illusion and responsibility

The time has come. Today at 8:00 p.m., Barça will jump onto the Palau parquet to face Zalgiris for a place in the Final Four, the great objective of the season. The minimum that is required of a club like Barça and a squad like Jasikevicius’s, which since his arrival has triggered the illusion, and the options, of becoming European champions again. There are two participations in the Final Four since their arrival and they do not want to miss their appointment. The Zalgiris is the last stone on the road. On paper, one of the most affordable rivals that could touch them, if any is affordable, but that defeat will sell dearly.

The last two European playoffs that Barça has faced, against Zenit and Bayern Munich, were tremendous. Both to five games and both much more competitive than was supposed a priori. That is why Barça does not want scares. They do not want to go to Kaunas with a loss on the road that would force them to at least win one of Zalgiris’s two home games. In his last two visits, in fact, he has lost.

For the game that opens the series, and Friday if there are no setbacks, Jasikevicius has all the players available except for Cory Higgins. The American continues to suffer from low back pain problems that have kept him intermittently out for more than a year. And it doesn’t look like he has a good prognosis. He could travel to Kaunas for the third game, but his level is far from what he showed after coming from CSKA. Laprovittola is his natural substitute, already fully adapted to the ‘two’, but there is little else on the bench in that position. Some invention (like playing with Jokubaitis next to Satoransky) or rotation players like Paulí. Abrines, who is in trouble, trained yesterday with the rest of his teammates and should be able to play today.

Higgins’ loss can be especially sensitive against Zalgiris, as the Lithuanians are the best team in the competition in close finals. An American specialty. It is why Barça does not want to reach that position. The idea of ​​the coaching staff and locker room is to dominate the series with an iron fist from the first minute, forcing their rival to go behind throughout the game. They will not speculate, they will not leave room for surprise. Jasikevicius emphasized aspects such as physical tone or rebound, but above all the mental aspect. He wants a focused team that especially limits losses, and that he does not have downturns that can condition the game. It depends on whether they reach the Final Four.

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