Spain: Barca re-starts season with win
The Spanish League end-of-season tournament started on Wednesday evening in Valencia. The 12 teams with the best records when the competition was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic were divided into two groups of six squads each. All teams in each group will face each other once in a round-robin format and the best two squads from each will advance to the semifinals, to be played in a single-game format on Sunday, June 28. The winners will meet for the league championship on Tuesday, June 30. All games will be played behind closed doors at La Fonteta.
In the opening game in Group A, FC Barcelona topped Joventut Badalona 96-92. Nikola Mirotic led the winners with 16 points, Victor Claver added 12 and Cory Higgins and Adam Hanga scored 11 apiece for Barcelona. Conor Morgan paced Joventut with 21 points, Alen Omic scored 14 and Xabi Lopez-Arostegui 12 and Neno Dimitrijevic 10. Barcelona took control early as Claver scored 8 points in a 16-2 start that he capped with his second bomb from downtown. Dimitrijevic and Morgan tried to change things for Joventut and got help from an outstanding Pep Busquets to bring their team within 21-17 after 10 minutes. Joel Parra tied the game at 21-21 early in the second quarter, but Artem Pustovyi scored twice down low, Pierre Oriola added an off-balance basket and Alex Abrines dunked for a 32-24 Barcelona lead. Higgins and Kevin Pangos, in his first game of the season, took over late in the first half to restore a 44-30 Barcelona margin at halftime. Mirotic stepped up after the break as Barcelona boosted its margin to 74-57 late in the third quarter. Albert Ventura and Morgan rescued Joventut, and Lopez-Arostegui added a three-point play that brought his team within 92-90 with 28.0 seconds left. Abrines dunked again and Mirotic iced the win from the foul line.
Unicaja Malaga never trailed en route to a 70-83 victory over Iberostar Tenerife. Adam Waczynski scored 17 points on 4-of-4 three-point shooting to lead the winners, Deon Thompson added 11 points, Axel Bouteille and Volodymir Gerun each scored 10 and Gal Mekel dished 10 assists. Sasu Salin led Tenerife with 15 points, Marcelinho Huertas shined with 11 points and 9 assists and Dani Diez posted 11 points and 11 boards in defeat. Bouteille and Thompson each scored 5 points as Unicaja jumped out to a 5-14 lead. A triple by Aaron White closed the gap to 15-20 after 10 minutes and Georgios Bogris made it a 2-point game early in the second quarter. Unicaja regrouped, Gerun boosted the margin to double figures and the score settled at 32-43 at halftime. Salin heated up to keep Tenerife in the game and free throws by Giorgi Shermadini closed the gap to 52-57 late in the third quarter, which ended 54-62 after a layup by Mekel. Frank Elegar scored twice in a 0-7 run to start the fourth, the lead peaked at 5674 on a Carlos Suarez triple and Tenerife never threatened again.