Champion Regal FC Barcelona outlasted Maccabi Electra 85-92 after overtime
Defending Euroleague champion Regal FC Barcelona outlasted Maccabi Electra 85-92 in over time on Thursday to clinch first place in Top 16 Group F and homecourt advantage in the Quarterfinal Playoffs. The champs came from down double digits with a 1-9 blitz to start the fourth quarter and handed Maccabi its first loss of the season at Nokia Arena. Former Maccabi player Terence Morris scored 19 on 5-of-9 three-point shooting to pace Barcelona and Juan Carlos Navarro made 4 of 8 from downtown en route to 17. Alan Anderson added 14, but was nearly the goat after fouling Doron Perkins in the backcourt with 1.4 seconds left and his team up 2. Perkins made the free throws to force overtime, but Barcelona was up to the challenge in the extra period and behind Navarro and Fran Vazquez, wrested the victory to improve to 5-0. Joe Ingles added 10 for Barca. Jeremy Pargo paced Maccabi with 19 points, Sofoklis Schortsanitis added 16, Chuck Eidson 13 and Lior Eliyahu and Perkins netted 12 each.
Doron Perkins got the crowd rocking from the start with a triple to open the scoring. Erazem Lorbek countered inside for Barca’s first points. Both teams went inside early with Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Lorbek trading baskets. Lior Eliyahu shined with a pair of baskets – the second a baseline drive through the paint for a pretty reverse layup to make it 11-6. Jeremy Pargo added a basket in transition as the hosts looked to take control. Chuck Eidson drilled an open three-pointer to give the hosts a double-digit lead midway through the quarter. After a timeout, Ricky Rubio broke the Maccabi press and then Terence Morris drained a triple from the corner. Morris added another to silence the once-boisterous crowd. Perkins retorted from downtown, but Morris remained Barcelona’s chief weapon with 2 from the foul line. Eidson soared for a pretty layup only for Victor Sada to equal him from the line. Pargo boosted the lead to 24-16 with triple and that’s how it stayed after 10 minutes.
Guy Pnini scored from the line and Milan Macvan on the break to push the lead to 12. Alan Anderson got involved, scoring his second straight basket on a dunk after having his first try blocked by Big Sofo. Joe Ingles took his star turn next with a pair of baskets to cut the deficit to 31-25. Perkins and Anderson exchanged words and were slapped with double technical fouls. Eidson and Eliyahu came through to restore a double-digit Maccabi lead, but Morris again quieted the crowd with a three-pointer, 35-28. Eliyahu darted through the lane for his trademark one-handed push basket. Pargo banked in a shot in the lane, but Juan Carlos Navarro fed Fran Vazquez for a one-handed slam that made it 39-30 and neither team scored on its final possession of the half to leave Maccabi up 9 at the break.
Boni Ndong got involved with a pair of baskets early in the second half and then Navarro tacked on a triple to make it 42-37. Eliyahu countered with a layup in transition. Morris followed his own miss to keep Barca close and another Navarro triple brought the champs closer, 46-42. Kosta Perovic soon made it a 3-point game. Pargo gave the crowd something to cheer about with a three-pointer, but Morris silenced the crowd with a three of his own. Navarro and Morris each added another triple to bring the visitors within 54-53. Rubio completed the comeback by tying the score from the line. Pargo pulled up for a big three that woke the fans up. And then hit another to put the hosts back in the driver’s seat at 60-54 at the end of the quarter.
Anderson hit a clutch triple early in the fourth quarter and then Lorbek rejected Pargo at one end and sank a three-pointer at the other to tie the game at 60-60. Schortsanitis got to the line, but Anderson drilled a triple over Eliyahu to give Barcelona its first lead of the night, 61-63. Perkins spotted Sofo inside for a two-handed slam, but Navarro bettered him with his fourth three-pointer of the game. And Ndong made it 63-68 with a pull-up jumper, prompting Maccabi head coach David Blatt to call for an urgent timeout. Schortsanitis muscled for a basket-plus-foul, sending Ndong to the bench with 5 fouls. Eidson forced a steal on defense and the hosts went to Schortsanitis again, who drew Perovic’s fourth foul. The big man made the free throws to tie the score at 68-68. Barcelona regained the lead by outlasting Maccabi for an Anderson basket after Sofo blocked 2 shots. Eidson then missed twice from the line anf Sofo’s next apparent basket was cancelled for travelling, taking the energy out of the building. Perovic fouled out going for a rebound and Sofo made it 69-70 with 86 seconds remaining. Anderson put Barca up 3 from the line with 66 seconds to play. Perkins scored a key basket after an offensive rebound and forced Anderson into a tough shot at the other end. But a hurried attack resulted in two missed shots and a turnover. Lorbek went to the line with 3.6 seconds left and made just 1. Anderson inexplicably fouled Perkins in the backcourt with 1.4 seconds left and the latter made both free throws to send the game to overtime at 73-73.
Vazquez buried a baseline jumper early in overtime and Navarro added a driving layup for a 73-77 Barcelona lead. Maccabi struggled to get Schortsanitis involved and Perkins split free throws before Ingles scored in transition. David Blu rescued Maccabi with a three-pointer only for Vazquez to hit a turnaround jumper and keep it a two-possession game at 77-81. Navarro hit free throws, which Pargo erased with a driving layup. Rubio was cool from the foul line and a three-pointer by Ingles sealed the outcome, 79-88, with 1:14 left. Maccabi kept trying but Barcelona stayed unbeaten in 2011 and goes back home as the Group F champion.
Thursday, February 24, 2011