FC Barcelona, led by Navarro, cruises past Efes
FC Barcelona opened the 2013-14 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 in style by downing Anadolu Efes Istanbul 84-65 in Group E at Palau Blaugrana on Thursday. Barcelona recorded its eighth home win against Efes in as many games. Juan Carlos Navarro paced the winners with 21 points. Brad Oleson added 13, Kostas Papanikolaou scored 12 while Joey Dorsey tallied 10 points and 11 rebounds for Barcelona. Semih Erden led Efes with 15 points. Dusko Savanovic added 12 while Kerem Gonlum had 10 for the guests. A 12-2 run that Bostjan Nachbar capped with a dunk gave Barcelona an early 12-4 lead. Gonlum kept Efes within 23-16 late in the first quarter but Erazem Lorbek, Navarro and Oleson fueled a 25-2 run that broke the game open, 48-18. Efes got within 53-29 at halftime, but Nothing changed after the break, as Barcelona kept a safe double-digit margin all the way until the final buzzer.
First quarter: Strong start puts Barcelona ahead
Savanovic got Efes going with a layup which Navarro bettered with a three-pointer that gave Barcelona its first lead, 3-2. A chase-down block by Kostas Papanikolaou ignited the crowd and a turnaround jumper by Boki Nachbar boosted the hosts' lead to 5-2. Semih Erden and Ante Tomic traded baskets and a free throw by Marcelinho Huertas gave his team an 8-4 edge. Papanikolaou kept pacing Barcelona with a layup and a dunk by Nachbar caused Efes to stop the game at 12-4. Dogus Balbay scored off a steal, but Huertas scored in transition and a driving layup by Navarro made it a double-digit game, 16-6. Gonlum tried to change things with a slam that Papanikolaou improved on with a three-pointer. Gonlum dunked again and added a layup in transition to give Efes hope at 19-12. After Oleson hit foul shots, Zoran Planinic and Erazem Lorbek traded jumpers before another basket by Gonlum kept Efes within 23-16. A driving layup by Oleson fixed the score at 25-16 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Barca uses 25-2 run to take off
Oleson struck from downtown early in the second quarter, as Efes tried to get Savanovic involved. Dorsey provided a highlight with a huge put-back slam, good for a 30-16 Barcelona lead. Lorbek banked in a mid-range jumper and a layup by Victor Sada capped an 11-0 run. Erden and Dorsey traded close baskets and Nachbar sank his trademark five-jumper jumper to make it a 20-point game. Efes called timeout, but Papanikolaou followed with a driving layup and a three-pointer by Navarro broke the game open, 43-18. Sada ignited the crowd with a fast break slam and Navarro nailed another corner triple that boosted Barcelona's lead to 30 after a mammoth 25-2 run. Vasileiadis swished a mid-range jumper and added a corner triple to bring Efes a bit closer, 48-23 After. Navarro hit free throws, Cedi Osman struck from downtown and Erden brought Efes within 50-27. Osman scored again, but a buzzer-beating jumper by Oleson gave Barcelona a 53-29 margin at halftime.
Third quarter: Efes improves defense, reacts
Balbay scored in penetration right after the break, as Barcelona was held scoreless for more than four minutes due to Efes's improved man-to-man defense. The guests could not find the way to the basket, however, picking up three consecutive turnovers. Savanovic struck from downtown to get Efes a bit closer, 52-34, causing head coach Xavi Pascual to call timeout. Erden scored down low, but Navarro rescued Barcelona with a three-pointer, good for 55-36. Gonlum and Dorsey traded baskets before a wild off-balance shot by Navarro restored a 59-38 Barcelona lead. Vasileiadis buried a corner triple. Papanikolaou shined with a driving basket and a free throw by Sada gave the hosts a 62-41 edge. Milko Bjelica and Lorbek exchanged jumpers, but the hosts kept dominating the boards, outrebounding Efes by 15 late in the third quarter. Savanovic nailed another three-pointer and Planinic copied him right after that to get Efes within 65-49 late in the third quarter.
Fourth quarter: Barcelona seals easy win
Savanovic buried a catch-and-shoot, four-meter jumper early in the fourth quarter. Efes tried a triple-post lineup with Savanovic, Bjelica and Gonlum together on court. Oleson hit a jumper and Dorsey followed that with a layup that kept Barcelona way ahead, 69-51. Efes kept struggling to score while a power layup by Oleson and a free throw by Nachbar boosted the hosts' lead to 73-52. Erden made 3 of 4 free throws before a big, two-handed dunk by Dorsey gave Barcelona a 74-55 lead. Papanikolaou took over with a huge fast break dunk. Erden hit a baseline jumper and Tomic sent a no-look assist to Sada for an easy layup. Planinic buried a turnaround jumper, but by the time Navarro nailed a step-back triple from way downtown, everything was said and done and Barcelona had registered its first win in Group E.
Thursday, January 2, 2014