In a game of constant scoring swings, AXA FC Barcelona held onto its share of second place in Group C by turning back late-charging Fenerbahce Ulker 78-85 on the road in Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday. Barcelona stayed one win behind the Group C leader Panathinaikos, first at 8-1. Meanwhile, Fenerbahce dropped to 4-5 and now ties with Partizan Igokea for the fourth place in this group. Jaka Lakovic led the winners with 22 points. Roger Grimau added 13 points, while Mario Kasun had 12 and Alex Acker 11 for Barcelona. Mirsad Turkcan had 18 points for Fenerbahce and pulled 6 rebounds, half of what he needed to become the first Euroleaguep player to reach 1,000 this decade. James White added 17 points for Fenerbahce. Barcelona enjoyed first-half leads of up to 7-27 before three-pointers by Oguz Savas, Rasim Basak and Hakan Demirel gave Fenerbahce its first lead, 41-40, just before halftime. Late in the third quarter, a 0-8 run that Lakovic capped with a running triple boosted Barcelona's lead to 49-63 but Turkcan led Fenerbahce on an 11-1 response to get within 60-64. Late in the fourthe quarter, back-to-back layups by Will Solomon turned the game into a thriller, 75-76, with 1:32 to go. Sanchez nailed a critical shot while Lakovic sealed the outcome with a big triple and free throws.
Barcelona found 4 quick points from Acker around a jumper from Lakovic and established its defense with a 0-6 start to the game. Fenerbahce got started late, with points from Will Solomon and Gasper Vidmar, but Acker and Lakovic kept scoring, the latter with the game's first three-pointer, to open a 6-11 lead. Fenerbahce needed to respond, and did so with a 6-2 run in 3 minutes to pull within 12-13 on Turkcan's layup-plus-free throw. Ersan Ilyasova, Barcelona's representative from the home country, lifted the guests again with a shot from the arc at 12-16. Kasun added a two-pointer before James White kept Fenerbahce close with a triple, but Pepe Sanchez finished the first quarter keeping Barcelona's lead as large as 15-21 from the free throw line.
Ilyasova started the second quarter by extending the lead, then Kasun joined him in pumping it up to double digits for the first time, 17-27. Again, Fenerbahce needed a boost, and White's next triple opened the door for three bench players - Hakan Demirel, Oguz Savas and Rasim Basak - to help close the gap with equal parts scoring and defense. Basak's triple and an alley-oop dunk from Demirel to White ended a 15-8 run as close as 32-35 on the scoreboard. A minute later, big Savas launched from the arc and drilled a three-pointer to make it 35-37. After Lakovic's single free throw, Basak hit another three-pointer to tie the game for the first time 38-38 . Jordi Trias put Barcelona ahead again before Demirel hit from downtown for his teams first lead, but Lakovic came right back and copied him to keep the visitors ahead 41-43 at the half.
Barcelona tried to end all of the doubt it had generated before halftime by making a thunderous start to the third quarter, a massive 0-10 run over 3 minutes, 16 seconds. Trias, Grimau, Kasun and Lakovic fired up a basket each to get it going. Then, Lakovic fired up a run-ending triple to make it 41-53 and force the hosts to react. Fenerbahce tried to recover with points from Basak, Turkcan and White, getting as close as 49-55 midway through the quarter, but Barcelona unleashed another burst of 8 unanswered points, again punctuated by a Lakovic bomb from downtown, that were good for the biggest lead yet in the game, 49-63. Fenerbahce counterpunched with 7 points of its own, however, to end the third quarter within striking distance again at 56-63.
Barcelona tried to regain control to start the last quarter, but Fenerbahce rose up on defense with blocks from Omer Asik and Turkcan that inspired the hosts room to chip away at the difference. Trias, Grimau and Lakovic helped Barcelona stay one step ahead until Solomon joined Asik and Turkcan in scoring down the stretch. Solomon's driving layup reduced the difference to single point, 75-76, with 90 seconds left, but Barcelona proved to have enough talent and experiance to control the outcome. Pepe Sanchez made a smooth jumper in response to Solomon, and after a single free throw by Asik, Lakovic escaped from Solomon's defence with a screen from Grimau and hit the killer three-pointer that left no doubt about the outcome.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Gokhan Ture, Istanbul