AXA FC Barcelona showed it is ready to reach high in difficult Group C by downing Chorale Roanne 82-76 at Palau Blaugrana, Spain on Thursday night. Barcelona registered its second consecutive home win and improved to 2-1 in the Group C standings, just one win away from unbeaten leaders Real Madrid and Panathinaikos. Meanwhile, Chorale dropped to 1-2 but keeps all its Top 16 hopes alive. Mario Kasun led the winners with 22 points on 9-of-12 two-pointers. Jaka Lakovic added 16 on 4-of-7 triples, Roger Grimau had 12 while Jordi Trias got 11 points for Barcelona. Marc Salyers led Chorale with 21 points and 9 reboounds. Brion Rush added 14 points while Laurent Cazalon had 10 for the guests, who trailed 42-34 at halftime. An outstanding Salyers brought Roanne within 51-49, but Trias and Grimau allowed Barcelona to boost its lead to 70-60 with 6 minutes to go. Roanne still managed to get bac kin the game, 72-67, but Pepe Sanchez led a 5-0 run that sealed the outcome.
Both teams opted to play fast-paced basketball in the early going. Kasun scored in the paint and Gianluca Basile buried a three-pointer for a 5-0 Barcelona lead. Pape Badiane got Chorale going with a jumper but Lakovic fed Kasun for an alleyoop dunk. Badiane insisted with another basket and had a big block on Trias, as Barcelona now powered the offensive board. Trias hit a free throw and Lakovic fired in his first three-pointer, as Roanne could not find its scoring rhythm, with both Rush and Salyers scoreless so far. Marc-Antoine Pellin scored off a steal and soon added a three-pointer to get Roanne back in the game at 11-9. Kasun scored inside, had a dunk on Badiane, ran downcourt and dunked it to make Roanne call timeout at 15-9. Will Soliman hit free throws while Cazalon fired in a big three-pointer to get Roanne within 15-14. Grimau answered from downtown and fed Basile for a reverse layup, allowing Barcelona to get a 20-14 lead after 10 minutes.
Sanchez found his first points on a bomb from downtown that Salyers erased with a three-point play. Grimau drew a foul and calmly made free throws for a 25-17 Barcelona lead. Adam Hess buried a three-pointer but Michel Morandais stroke twice form downtown to make Roanne call timeout at 31-20. The guests did not manage to get their scoring leaders, Rush and Salyers, involved. Lakovic scored off a steal but Pierric Poupet joined the three-point festival to give Roanne some hope at 34-23. Lakovic kept pacing Tau with a three-pointer by Pellin and Rush kept Roanne in the game, 37-27. Poupet made free throws but Ersan Ilyasova buried a jumper for a 39-30 Barcelona lead. Rush stepped up with a power layup while Salyers raced downcourt for an easy layup that got Roanne within 41-34. A free throws by Lakovic allowed Barcelona to extend its margin to 42-34 at halftime.
Salyers opened the third quarter with a one-handed fast break dunk, as Barcelona struggled to beat the guests' man-to-man defense now. Kasun made free throws but Pellin buried a four-meter shot to get Roanne within 44-38. Barcelona kept running its offense through Kasun but a floating layup by Salyers still kept Roanne close. Kasun kept leading Barcelona with a three-point play while Rush finished a third-chance Roanne offense with a five-meter shot. Roanne had improved its aggressivity in defense, while a dominant Badiane dunked it and Salyers added a power layup to make Barcelona call timeout at 49-46. Barcelona opted to attack the basket and Kasun shined with a put-back jump hook but Salyers fired in a seven-meter bomb to make it a two-point game, 51-49. Lakovic rescued Barcelona with a three-pointer while Sanchez had a no-look, behind-the-back pass that allowed Trias to dunk it for a 56-49 AXA lead. Salyers stayed unstoppable with a second-chance basket but Lakovic answered from downtown for a 59-51 Barcelona lead after three quarters.
Grimau boosted the hosts' lead to double digits with a driving basket but Roanne was not done. Rush fired in a three-pointer while Barcelona lost control in offense, as Roanne now controlled the game tempo. Grimau stepped up again with free throws and Trias added a mid-range jumper to keep the hosts way ahead, 65-55. Hess found space for an open triple that Kasun - who else? - matched with a layup-plus-foul. Hess kept trying for Roanne but Trias scored inside for a 70-60 AXA lead with 6 minutes to go. Rush took over with a fast break layup while Salyers added a left-handed tip-in to give Roanne some hope, 70-64. Trias scored in the paint but Salyers buried another long triple to get the guests even closer, 72-67. Sanchez took a desperation shot that Badiane touch on its way down while Trias added another layup that sealed the outcome, 76-67, with 2 minutes to go. Roanne kept fighting and left a good impression at Palau Blaugrana, but a three-pointer by Grimau allowed Barcelona to seal its win big in style.
Thursday, November 8, 2007