With the game on the line, Zalgiris Kaunas was up by one and had the ball. Corry Higgins stoled it with 10 seconds left, but Barcelona couldn’t get a shot up with Tomas Satoransky being blocked by Edgaras Ulanovas.
Zalgiris got the big 73-72 win as the two sides are now tied in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague standings at 2-2.
Keenan Evans led the way with 18 points, while Rolands Smits and the hero of the night, UIanovas, added 15 points each.
Jan Vesely with 12 points was the top scorer of Barcelona which finished the game shooting 6/19 threes, Alex Abrines left the game injured, while both teams combined for a total of 33 turnovers.
“It’s just fighting against a great team, it’s all about fighting”, Evans said after the game giving credit also to the sold-out home crowd: “It’s also about the fans, we couldn’t do it without them and the energy they provided for us”.
It was a very physical game with Zalgiris getting a 44-35 halftime lead and stretching it to 11 points (48-37) at the start of the third quarter. At that point, Barcelona reacted and thanks to a 13-2 run got the 51-50 lead, entering the last period with a one-point advantage (56-55).
The slow pace and the sloppy plays continued and with seven minutes left the score was tied at 61. Evans with a big three made the score 64-61 for the hosts and Tomas Dimsa with three free throws gave Zalgiris a six-point lead (67-61).
The answer was a 7-0 run completed by a three from Rokas Jokubaitis that gave Barcelona the lead back (68-67) with three minutes left.
However, the Catalans missed the chance to build up on this, with Jan Vesely getting called for an unsportsmanlike foul and Rolands Smits giving the lead back to Zalgiris (69-68). Nikola Kalinic answered back (70-69) and with both teams missing a combined five chances to score finally Arnas Butkevicius with a three made the score 72-70 for Zalgiris just 26 seconds before the final buzzer.
Kalinic missed an open three, Evans was fouled and made one of two free throws (73-70). Barcelona had one more chance with 15 seconds left, Nicolas Laprovittola was fouled and made it a one-point game (73-72) but ultimately the guests couldn’t steal the win.
“In crunch time everything can go either way, why do we have to wait for crunch time? Why we don’t have the same intensity earlier?” said Barcelona coach Sarunas Jasikevicius. “I guess I have to take responsibility as a coach for not preparing my team right for coming in here”.