Credit: Rodolfo Molina - Getty Images | BasketNews illustration
Credit Rodolfo Molina - Getty Images | BasketNews illustration

After a spectacular Wednesday's battle between FC Barcelona and UNICS Kazan, BasketNews presents a special 3x3 EuroLeague edition.

Player of the Game
Nikola  Mirotic
Nikola Mirotic
Points 28
Accuracy 6-13
Rebounds 3
Assists 1

This time, the whole focus will be on Barcelona's victory against the Russian club. To make it even more special, we invited not three but four of our colleagues: Miguel Lois Vidal, who was in attendance at Palau Blaugrana, Senior Staff Writer Donatas Urbonas, and Staff Writers Orazio Cauchi and Giorgios Kyriakidis.

Miguel, Donatas, Orazio, and Giorgos discussed the hottest topics of the game, including a debatable shooting foul call on Nikola Mirotic, Isaiah Canaan's shenanigans, and the most underrated aspect of the game.

Was there a shooting foul/what do you take from that call on Mirotic?

Miguel: From my point of view, it was difficult to see it at that moment. It looks like Jekiri puts his hands on Mirotic's abdomen, but then I am not sure if Niko wanted to shoot or not. Only he knows it. Referees should have had the possibility to review that action. 

Donatas: I think Damir Javor was more right than wrong, calling a foul. Tonye Jekiri is experienced enough to understand that it's too risky to put your hands on such a smart scorer like Nikola Mirotic.

So if we're looking for anybody to blame for that ending, it's more Jekiri than Javor. But to call it a shooting foul and send teams to overtime in this way? Ugh...

That's EuroLeague's problem in general. Players get away with sneaky fouls beyond the arc and three free throws too often. By the way, Barca attempted 29 free throws in the 4th quarter and overtime, while UNICS had 17.

The difference is not a problem. The problem is the number combined. In the last 15 minutes, 41 of 89 final points were scored from the line. I want games not to be decided on the free throw line.

Orazio: Mirotic's situation is a tricky one. The Barcelona player did his job in trying to sell the foul to the referees. He's not the first to do it, he won't be the last.

Plus, Mirotic is an experienced player, he knows how to deal with these types of scenarios. Was there a foul? Yeah, probably. Jekiri used his hands a lot in that particular situation, and when we look where the referee who called the foul was, it's not that surprising that a foul was called.

Was it a shooting foul? That's a different matter. Personally, I don't see that as a foul in the act of shooting. Mirotic feels the contact and immediately starts the shooting motion, and he did that intentionally.

Again, there's nothing wrong with that, he just tried to exploit the situation. But to me, that's not a shooting foul, and if the referees had the opportunity to re-watch that player, they would have changed the decision.

Giorgos: A foul could have been called at the beginning of the action when Jekiri put his hands on Mirotic's torso.

Per FIBA rules: "The referees shall decide whether the player who caused the contact has gained an advantage. If contact caused by a player in any way restricts the freedom of movement of an opponent, such contact is a foul."

Jekiri hand-checked Mirotic, and that's when refs could have stopped the game. Jekiri certainly risked too much, but, on the other hand, when the Montenegrin forward felt the contact, he "manufactured the (shooting) foul," as the EuroLeague speaker said.

Mirotic is by far EuroLeague's most adept player at eliciting those kinds of calls. He's one hell of a basketball player but also a serial flopper, and I'm really curious why referees, albeit cognizant of his mechanics, haven't been more cautious.

Since the refs called it, I think the three free throws were the inevitable outcome. Contact was established before Mirotic took off, and regardless of whether the player of Barcelona was looking for a pass or a long-distance shot, he only took advantage of EuroLeague game officials' proneness to call a shooting foul whenever a player feels he can draw contact from an opponent.

In this case, although referees are not permitted to check the instant replay if they are in doubt, they are allowed to take back unmerited free throws in case they think that it wasn't a shooting foul. As it appeared, they didn't bother to discuss Javor's call and went along with the Slovenian's decision.

Isaiah Canaan's shush - iconic or stupid?

Miguel: It's not the first time a player has done something like this. Kobe did it at the Olympic Games. Even Canaan has done it before, in Tel Aviv and in Moscow.

It is kind of an understandable reaction when you are dominating on the road. But it's not about iconic or stupid, it's about understanding how the game is going. If the game is close to the end, like two minutes or less, and you are up by 20, you can do it.

But if not, you're taking a high risk. He woke up people at Palau, and also Barcelona's players reconnected to the game. So I would be closer to Nedovic's opinion because of the moment he chose to do it, not because of the gesture per se.

Donatas: Iconic, 100%.

Disrespectful to Barcelona fans? I wasn't at Palau Blaugrana, and I didn't see if Canaan was throwing middle fingers at fans or cursing everybody around. I highly doubt he did that.

But I don't get it. That's who Canaan was all his life. He is so emotional from the tip-off to the end, and there's no difference if he's playing Barcelona or Kalev/Cramo. I don't have any problem with a basketball player showing his muscles after he scores or silencing the crowd after important shots, which just stopped the opposing team's run. 

I think Barca fans were embarrassed by their home team losing by 20 and playing ugly basketball more than being silenced by Canaan.

Did it wake Barcelona up?

I think it's only a coincidence. Barca already were on the run. Also, the game could have finished earlier in UNICS favor.

Yes, that night will be remembered as The Shush for quite some time now. But I want a player like Canaan on every team on any EuroLeague night.

Orazio: I believe that Canaan is a very competitive player, and in that particular moment, he wanted to show Barcelona's fans that he was ready to silence them.

It's the heat of the moment, I don't think it was necessarily a stupid move. I'm not a fan of this kind of flex during the game. It would be smarter to keep this kind of stuff for when the game is over, but I'm not a player, so my opinion doesn't matter that much in this case.

Canaan played a very good game, and he's having a solid EuroLeague season for a player who has never competed in this tournament before, he just ended up on the wrong side of the game when he made that gesture and then missed a couple of key free throws in the overtime. As coach Trinchieri said, shit happens. 

Giorgos: Neither iconic nor stupid.

Canaan just did what all ballers do (mostly) in the United States, putting his index finger before his mouth. Some would say that he woke Barca up as Jasikevicius argued in the post-game presser. Others, like Perasovic, would maintain that it was an unnecessary move.

It's a commonplace in Europe that teams who are up in the scoreboard instruct their players to be low-key to avoid getting opponent fans involved. UNICS were up by 15 when that gesture took place, and Barca had plenty of time (almost six minutes, not two or three) to bounce back.

As it turned out, they did. But Canaan did nothing to stop UNICS's game rhythm - after all, his team kept scoring. He had the chance to put UNICS ahead with the score at 108-106 and 14 seconds left, but he missed on two of his three free throws.

As he wrote on Twitter, he's not "a player who will back down from nothing." So, I wouldn't be surprised if he repeated the gesture in one of the next games.

The most underrated thing of the game, which was overshadowed by Barca's comeback, the shush and foul on Mirotic?

Miguel: It depends on your perspective. I've read some people complaining about Mirotic's free throws. I've also seen fans extremely angry with Canaan's reaction.

The finger's gesture was indeed a turning point in the game. Then, Mirotic's foul was also a key factor, but Lorenzo Brown had one chance to avoid the overtime.

Basketball is not just one play. I prefer to talk about Dante Exum's character or John Brown's activity during the whole game. Probably the best game of the season.

It's really fun to watch UNICS' games. And Barcelona are showing character on the court. They are hungry to win the title.

Donatas: Exum's defense against Mario Hezonja at the end of regulation. Hezonja scored 2 points in the fourth quarter, thanks to Exum, who was under Super Mario's skin.

I also think coach Perasovic missed the moment to cool off Canaan and some of his players under pressure in the fourth quarter (UNICS turned the ball over six times).

It could have been done either by substitution or the correct timing of the time-out. UNICS just lost control of the game and themselves. But now, it's very easy to speak.

Orazio: Well, definitely UNICS's performance was overshadowed by all the other things that happened in the game.

The team coached by Perasovic, even despite the loss, played a fantastic game. In the second and third quarters, they shut down Barcelona's offense, which is one of the best in the EuroLeague.

And even in the final period, UNICS were up by 17 points at some point. You can't do something like that against Barcelona if you're not a good team.

Sure, the loss is painful, and in the final minutes, they couldn't maintain the type of composure you should have in these situations. Still, their performance was really impressive, and it was a further confirmation that UNICS is going to be a real problem for everyone in the following months. Hats off to them. 

Giorgos: The fact that, after Athens and Panathinaikos, Barcelona survived another close game on a 9-player rotation.

Coming off a competitive game in Belgrade against Crvena Zvezda, Barcelona came to Athens dealing with several problems. The Catalan side has been deprived of several core players in Nick Calathes, Cory Higgins, and Alex Abrines, who have been long-time absences.

To make things worse, Sergi Martinez was injured before the game at OAKA, while a few hours before tip-off, Nigel Hayes-Davis, tested positive for COVID last Thursday and is pending clearance to leave the Greek capital and travel back to Catalunya.

With five important units missing, the rotation of the EuroLeague regular season leaders has been very limited yet effective. In Athens, coach Sarunas Jasikevicius used ten of eleven available players, with captain Pierre Oriola and 18-year-old Michael Caicedo being the only ones who didn't score despite getting playing time.

In the home game vs UNICS, Caicedo played roughly four minutes, while Oriola logged thirteen. Agustin Ubal and James Nnaju didn't leave the bench at all, so it's almost miraculous that Barca didn't have anyone -but Mirotic- play over 30 minutes in a 45-minute clash that went down to the wire.

Except for Brandon Davies, everyone contributed, and that's the most powerful message that this Barcelona team can send to the other EuroLeague trophy candidates.

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Barselonos FC Barcelona
Kazanės UNIKS
Field goals

Best players

Nikola  Mirotic
28 PTS
6/13 FG
13/13 FT
Lorenzo  Brown
27 PTS
8/19 FG
7/8 FT
FC Barcelona
Few players
Lorenzo  Brown
Nicolas  Laprovittola
8 As
4 TO
24 MIN
Lorenzo  Brown
9 As
4 TO
36 MIN
Nikola  Mirotic
26 EFF
50% 2P%
43% 3P%
Lorenzo  Brown
33 EFF
44% 2P%
40% 3P%