Winterthur FC Barcelona survived a tough test in Group B by edging Efes Pilsen 79-74 at home on Thursday after trailing much of the game. With the victory, Barcelona lifted its record to 4-5, tied for fifth place with Olympiacos. Efes Pilsen dropped to 6-3 and out of first place to now share second with Maccabi. Michalis Kakiouzis led the winners with 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting and 9 rebounds. Shammond Williams added 18 points and 6 assists, Juan Carlos Navarro scored 16 points and Gianluca Basile 10 for Barcelona. Nikola Prkacin led Efes with 25 points on 11-for-17 shooting and 9 rebounds. Henry Domercant had 17 points and Antonio Granger 10 for the guests, who held a 36-42 halftime edge. A 12-0 run in which Navarro, Kakiouzis and Williams made three-pointers vaulted Barcelona ahead 75-68, but the home fans could not celebrate until Kakiouzis and Williams made 4 free throws in the final 17 seconds.
Barcelona tried to speed up the tempo in the early going with short possessions, but a stop-and-pop three by Popovic gave Efes a 1-3 lead. Williams answered from the right corner and Granger also hit from downtown for Efes while Peker added a layup to push Efes' lead to 5-8 after 4 minutes. Efes dominated the boards, as Peker scored a second-chance basket on his fifth rebound already. Domercant fired in a three which capped a 1-10 run and gave Efes a 5-13 lead. Williams beat the shot clock with a jumper but Domercant immediately matched that in the other end. Michalis Kakiouzis joined the three-point festival and Fucka scored inside for a 12-16 Barcelona deficit after 8 minutes. Domercant stepped up with a basket-plus-foul which Basile erased with his first triple. Prkacin made a layup but free throws by Basile fixed the score at 17-21 after 10 minutes.
Prkacin stayed active with another close basket but Kakiouzis answered with a corner three to get Winterthur FCB within 20-23 early in this quarter. Prkacin - who else? - scored in the paint and Granger nailed his second triple to keep Efes in charge at 22-28. Kakiouzis found another layup but Granger copied him in the other end. Navarro stepped up with a floating jumper and Fucka canned a reverse layup, but Efes kept controlling the boards while Domercant slashed for a 28-34 Efes margin. A red hot Kakiouzis singlehandedly kept Barcelona into the game but Efes kept full control of the game with its aggressive frontcourt highlighted by Prkacin's post moves. He had 4 quick points to make it an eight-point game, 30-38. Kakiouzis followed an easy basket with a put-back layup, but Peker made a third-chance layup and Popovic beat the buzzer with a layup which gave Efes a 37-42 lead at halftime.
Navarro slashed for a quick basket right after the break and Williams added free throws to get the hosts back into the game at 41-42. Barcelona was a different team in defense, while Navarro capped a 6-0 run which a mid-range jumper to give the hosts a 43-42 lead. Prkacin came to the rescue with a fast break layup and Domercant fired in a long jumper to force a Barcelona timeout at 43-46. Popovic kept Efes going with an uncontested layup, but Barcelona soon fired back. Fucka, Bootsy Thornton and Basile combined for 7 quick points to put the hosts in charge, 50-48. Prkacin gave Efes some air with a jump hook and Domercant slashed for a layup to tie it at 52-52. Granger hit a four-meter jumper but Basile answered with an off-balanced shot. Another close basket by Prkacin gave Efes a 54-56 at the end of an outstanding third quarter.
Prkacin kept rolling with a reverse layup but Navarro answered from downtown to keep the hosts within 57-58. Kakiouzis made a short jumper, forcing an Efes timeout at 59-58. Popovic buried a tough jumper which Gonlum followed with a tip-in for a 59-62 Efes lead. Williams fed Fucka for a layup but Prkacin scored again in the low post. Kakiouzis and Domercant exchanged baskets, but Prkacin took over with a reverse layup to give Efes a 63-68 edge. Navarro shined with a fast break triple, igniting a 12-0 run in which Kakiouzis and Williams buried respective bombs from downtown to give Barcelona a 75-68 lead with 2:21 to go. Erden Arslan buried a three which Prkacin followed with a free throw for a 75-72 deficit with 1:27 remaining. Domercant fed Gonlum for a layup to make it a one-point game at 75-74. Navarro missed a seven-meter three, but Kakiouzis grabbed the offensive rebound, drew a foul and hit free throws for a 77-74 Barcelona lead with 16.4 seconds remaining. Popovic was next to the line, but missed both attempts, while Williams sealed the win with foul shots with 5.4 seconds to go.
Thursday, January 5, 2006