Winterthur FC Barcelona solved a difficult situation in Group B on Thursday by taking its fourth straight victory by 57-77 over Cibona in Zagreg to earn a Top 16 berth. In marked the first time since 1992 that Barcelona won in Zagreb. A great performance from the arc allowed the visitors to pull away early and Cibona never challenged the big gaps. Barcelona improved its Group B record to 7-5 and jumped into a third-place tied with Lietuvos Rytas. Cibona dropped to 5-7 and is now tied with Olympiacos for fifth place. They play each other next week. Roger Grimau led the winners with 14 points without a missed shot. Shammond Williams and Juan Carlos Navarro added 13 each, combining to make 6 of 10 triples, while Gregor Fucka nailed 10 points. For Cibona, Scoonie Penn was the best scorer with 16 points and Damir Markota added 10.
Luksa Andric scored fast for Cibona but the guests replied with a triple by Shammond Williams and a 2-3 score. A new bucket by Andric and a free throw by Bennett Davison got Cibona ahead again, but Juan Carlos Navarro stepped up with a new triple and a 5-6. The hosts used their advantage under the boards for the offensive rebounds as Andric stepped up for his sixth point of the night already but Navarro hit a new triple for Barcelona to tie the game for a 9-9. Both teams pushed with man-to-man defenses and the guests had the upper hand with 4 triples of 4 attempts as Williams hit a new one for a 10-13 Barcelona lead. The fifth offensive rebound fell for Cibona but the hosts could not put it back and Gregor Fucka launched the guests to 12-20 thanks to free throws. Cibona looked for Mate Skelin in the paint but he could not score as the first quarter ended with the same 12-20.
Skelin scored now for Cibona starting the second quarter but Navarro fed Fucka in a fast transition to erase that. The defense of the guests got tighter and tighter and Cibona struggled as Roger Grimau stole and finished a fastbreak for a double-digit lead of 14-24. The hosts used the offensive rebounds as Skelin scored again, and Barcelona, lacking big men, allowed that even more when Jordi Trias and Kakiouzis had to play underneath. Navarro stepped up for his third triple but Scoonie Penn replied with a fast drive that made it 20-31. Gianluca Basile beat the shot clock with an agonizing three for a new maximum lead, but Davor Kus replied with Cibona's first bomb and a 23-34 score. Grimau blasted Barcelona's 7th three of 10 attempts as Cibona allowed open shots after screens. On the other side however, Barcelona pushed hard in defense as Navarro hit a new basket for 27-43. That started a 0-6 run capped by Grimau with a tip in in the last second for a 27-47 halftime score.
Penn opened the scoring race in the second half for Cibona and Davison joined him slamming for a 31-47 score. Navarro replied for Barcelona after two minutes of play, and later stole to feed Williams in a fastbreak slam and a 31-52 edge. The defense of the Spanish team started working again soon, and Cibona tried to do the same as the guests had to play long solutions that not always ended in the rim. After 6 minutes into the period the partial was 5-5, and it had to be Kakiouzis with a good move in the paint who broke the spell on court for a 32-54. Damir Markota replied fast now with a basket-plus-foul but Williams had a three waiting on the other end to erase that. Markota found the touch with a new three and when Williams was called a technical foul Penn added two free throws for 39-59. Kakiouzis racked the 10th steal for the guests as he stepped up with a triple that sent the third quarter to an end, 39-62.
Andric was back on court for a three-point play, and Penn free throws and a layup allowed Cibona to trim the deficit back to 18 points, 48-66, but Grimau replied with a three-point play. Despite the big advantage, Barcelona never lowered its arms and maintained the defensive intensity, and Cibona's shy attempts to come back only remained attempts as Davison scored from the side for 55-72. However, the guests had only to maintain control to cruise to the final win and with it, take a Top 16 berth with two games to go in the regular season.
Thursday, January 26, 2006