The former NBA duo displayed their quality as the Blaugrana improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 at Palau Blaugrana.
Parker, Hernangomez carried Barcelona to victory against plucky Zvezda
FC Barcelona was made to dig deep for its 86-81 win over Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet Belgrade in Round 7 of the 2023-24 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season, with Jabari Parker and Willy Hernangomez at the heart of the home team’s success.
Hernangomez scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half, while Parker – another player, like Willy, with plenty of NBA experience – tormented the visitors all night from all over the court.
Jabari Parker is shining for Barcelona
The 28-year-old Parker notched his season high in points for a second consecutive EuroLeague game, having scored 20 points against Zvezda after netting 17 in the previous round’s 80-72 home win over Panathinaikos Athens.
He shot 7-of-9 from two-point territory and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, mixing slam dunks and drives to the basket with sublime perimeters shots. Parker’s performance compensated for a tough night endured by Barcelona’s backcourt, as guards Alex Abrines and Nicolas Laprovittola netted a mere 5 points between them.
“We beat a hell of a team. [It was] tough because they exploited our weaknesses throughout the game,” Parker said in a flash courtside interview as he walked off the floor. “They are well coached and well operated. But we’re a good team and I am only as good as my teammates. They help me patiently every day and I am happy to be here.”
With Barcelona leading 81-78 in the home stretch, Parker dealt the hammer blow with an audacious off-balance baseline jumper in the final minute of the enthralling contest. The hosts were thus able to breathe a huge sigh of relief after they nearly threw away a whopping 42-25 lead, when they seemed ready to steamroll Zvezda.
“We expected a game like that, and we suffered a lot on the boards as Zvezda grabbed 18 offensive rebounds,” commented Barcelona’s head coach, Roger Grimau. “But we showed character and we had Palau [Blaugrana's passionate fans] to get the victory. This is the EuroLeague, there are no easy games.”
Barcelona leaned on its inside shooting
Zvezda thoroughly dominated the boards, having amassed a total of 44 rebounds to Barca’s 27, but the home side thrived on close-range shooting as it nailed 26-of-39 shots from two-point territory.
Apart from Hernangomez and Parker, center Jan Vesely was also a key factor as he netted 14 points for Barca, cancelling out a heroic solo effort from Zvezda power forward Luka Mitrovic, who led all scorers with 22 points.
“Small details decided the game,” Zvezda head coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos lamented in the post-game press conference. “Hopefully we will improve in order to be able to win these types of games. The players are doing a great job adjusting to my philosophy. We are playing good offense, but we need to improve on defense generally.”