Winterthur FCB made it to the Quarterfinal Playoffs from Top 16 Group D when it thrashed visiting Zalgiris Kaunas 81-69 in Barcelona, Spain on Thursday. Winterthur improved to 4-0 and stays first in Group D, but was not the only team to qualify for the playoffs tonight, as its victory allowed Olympiacos, second at 3-1, to reach the next round also. Olympiacos hosts Barcelona next week, but each must wait for the final Top 16 standings to know whom its playoff opponents from Group E will be. Meanwhile, Zalgiris dropped to 0-4 and is out of the playoff race. Juan Carlos Navarro led the winners with 23 points. Michalis Kakiouzis added 17 on 6 of 7 two-pointers while Shammond Williams had 10 for Barcelona. Darjus Lavrinovic posted a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds, while Tanoka Beard added 14 points and Paulius Jankunas 11 for the guests. Barcelona led 47-36 soon after halftime but a 0-10 run brought Zalgiris back into the game. It didn't last, however, as Navarro and Kakiouzis combined for 13 points in a 15-2 blast that bridged the final two periods. That boosted Barcelona's margin to 62-48 with 6 minutes to go and never looked back.
Jankunas opened the scoring on the game's first play with a four-meter jumper for Zalgiris, and then Lavrinovic took over with a layup and a basket-plus-foul to send the hosts ahead 0-7. Soon, Barcelona worked around the Zalgiris zone defense to get Jordi Trias a basket and Navarro added a triple to make it 5-7. The hosts found their rhythm now to tie the score at 9-9, but Lavrinovic kept scoring in the paint and Simonas Serapinas blasted a bomb from the arc to secure a 10-14 lead for Zalgiris. Beard came off the bench now for the visitors, in time to see Trias scored again to tie, 14-14. The teams traded baskets until Beard and Lavrinovic got open inside at the end of the quarter to lift Zalgiris in front by 20-24 after 10 minutes.
Kakiouzis scored to spark a 0-6 run that opened the second quarter for Barcelona. Denis Marconato capped it with a bucket that was worth the home team's first lead, 26-24. Free throws by Beard got Zalgiris going again, but Navarro drilled a triple to keep Barcelona ahead 31-26. Beard kept pushing the lane and soon Jankunas joined him with a put-back that cut the difference to 31-30. After Barcelona missed 5 stright triples, on the sixth attempt Shammond Williams scored. Meanwhile, Zalgiris kept looking inside for Lavrinovic, who either scored or drew fouls until tying the score at 34-34. Gianluca Basile's bomb from the arc gave new life Barcelona and Williams liked the idea enough to copy it and push the hosts to a 42-36 lead at the break.
Williams drove and dropped a layup to open the second half and soon Basile appeared with a triple that gave Barcelona its first double-digit lead, 47-36. The hosts pushed real hard on defense now, forcing Zalgiris turnovers and holding the visitors scoreless for more than 4 minutes until a pair of free throws by Beard. After that, Beard fed Lavrinovic for a dunk to make it 47-40. Barcelona struggled to score now and Zalgiris stretched the run to 0-6 while its defense grew stronger by the minute. Navarro was back on court less than a minute after leaving it to inject points for the hosts, but Lavrinovic and Mantas Kalnietis capped a 0-10 run that pulled the guests within 47-46. Williams finally gave points to Barcelona from the line but the overall scoring of the quarter was low. A steal led to a Navarro layup that closed the third quarter with Barcelona still leading, 53-46.
Kakiouzis found the basket to open the last quarter and Beard replied soon with free throws for Zalgiris. Navarro had plenty of time to score from the corner and make it a 10-point cushion again, 58-48. Kakiouzis kept on adding points in the last period and Beard did the same, but the hosts stayed ahead comfortably at 64-50. Zalgiris was caught with its guard down as Williams drove with an explosion to the hole while Rodrigo De la Fuente block a shot one one end and scored on the other to cap a 15-4 that broke open the game at 68-50. Vidas Ginevicius tried a triple for Zalgiris, but Kakiouzis erased it with a three-point play. Shots from the arc by Reggie Freeman and Jankunas helped full a 0-8 burst by the guests that trimmed the deficit down to 71-61, but Navarro was there to respond with a triple of his own. A new three-point play by Navarro sparked chants in the stands as Barcelona rolled to a sure spot in the Quarterfinal Playoffs.
Thursday, March 16, 2006