An inspired Juan Carlos Navarro pushed Winterthur FC Barcelona a step closer to Top 16 qualification from Group B with easy 99-80 home win over Prokom Trefl Sopot on Thursday. The hosts pulled away soon thanks to Navarro and Denis Marconato and never looked back despite Jeff Nordgaard's threat from the arc for Prokom. Barcelona improved its record in Group B to 6-5 and moved a step closer to the Top 16 by moving alone into fourth place. On the other hand, Prokom drops to 3-8 and is tied with Armani Jeans Milano for seventh place. Navarro was the best scorer of the night with 26 points including 6 of 7 triples, his Euroleague career-high for shots from the arc. Michalis Kakiouzis added 15 plus 12 rebounds and Marconato 14 points for the winners. For Prokom, Adam Wojcik had 20 points, Nordgaard added 18 and Tomas Pacesas had 14.
Navarro inaugurated the scoring after more than 2 minutes with a triple. Defenses were working hard on both sides, but Michael Andersen drove in the lane for a 3-2. Navarro fed Denis Marconato inside for the joy of the crowd to lift the hosts to 7-2, but the fast reply came from the hands of Adam Wojcik. Navarro free throws and a Marconato three-point play around the triple by Jeff Nordgaard, launched Barcelona to a 15-9 lead. Navarro was in full-throttle as he added a new three and Prokom ran too much in offense and lost the ball for Marconato to get a new basket-plus-foul for the hosts' first double-digit lead, 23-12. Tomas Masiulis and Wojcik forged a mini 0-4 run make it 23-16 after 10 minutes.
Wojcik also pulled Prokom from the outside with a three to open the quarter, but Jordi Trias stepped on court to score right away as Prokom punished the hosts' weakness with the offensive rebound. However, Michalis Kakiouzis made it 27-19 for the hosts as Prokom still took advantage of the offensive rebounds as Goran Jagodnik hit free throws. Gianluca Basile and Ali Bouziane traded fast triples and Kakiouzis pulled his own offensive board as Barcelona went up to 34-24. Bouziane was Prokom's main offensive weapon, but Navarro appeared with a new triple for a 39-26. The presence of Trias on court gave Barcelona a solid presence under the boards, as Navarro hits the hosts' 12th free throw of 12 attempts for the 41-26 but Istvan Nemeth replied with a triple. More triples fell down, one for each side by Pacesas and Navarro, while Trias racked 5 points including a basket-plus-foul for 51-32. However Nordgaard had time for a last three that sent the game into the break, 51-35.
Navarro scored his first two-point basket and Roger Grimau followed with a three-point play for a 56-35 score, but Nordgaard appeared with his third triple. Grimau copied him for his sixth point in less than a minute with a new three, and Navarro fed Marconato with a back pass for a dunk and a 61-43 score. Nordgaard picked it up where Wojcik left it filling in for Nemeth and Jagodnik, who didn't find the basket. The Polish team felt it too much and Wojcik also stepped in to help with four straight points of his own at the same time as Navarro surpassed his Euroleague record in triples with the sixth bomb of the night for a 66-49 score. Kakiouzis was dominating the paint mainly in offense, but Pacesas tried to erase his supremacy with two straight triples and a 70-57. Marc Gasol and Shammond Williams pushed the hosts to a 78-59 lead after 30 minutes.
In the last quarter, the hosts maintained the tight grip on the game with straight baskets by Kakiouzis and Bootsy Thornton made it 88-67, and only Bouziane found the bottom of the net for Prokom. Wojcik joined him but with Victor Sada on court, Barcelona didn't take any unnecessary risks and the game entered the last two minutes with the hosts dominating by 93-75. Grimau let the clock tick away and found Marconato inside for 97-80 entering the last minute as the home crowd sand in joy as their team got a little closer to the Top 16.
Thursday, January 19, 2006