FC Barcelona Regal finished the Turkish Airlines Euroleague season in third place after holding off outgoing champion Panathinaikos 69-74 in the third-place game on Sunday afternoon at Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul. Marcelinho Huertas dominated early with 19 first-half points and then netted a pair of free throws in the final minute to seal the win. He finished with 21 – 2 points shy of his career high. The victory gives Barcelona a 19-2 record for the season. Joe Ingles matched his season high with 13 for the victors, and C.J. Wallace took advantage of extended minutes to score 12 and block 2 shots. Dimitris Diamantidis paced the Greens with 17 points, Aleks Maric was strong inside with 13 points and 11 rebounds and David Logan netted 11.
In the first three minutes of the game Nick Calathes and Logan both scored layups and an additional free throw for Panathinaikos, while Huertas made a jumper and a three-pointer on the other side. With Xavier Rabaseda’s first basket of the 2012 Final Four, and with another two triples by Huertas, Barcelona went up 9-14 after six minutes. Logan and Mike Batiste scored a pair of free throws each as Panathinaikos tried with zone-pressing, but more effective was Barcelona’s dominance on the offensive glass. Wallace scored a tip-in and Ingles followed it up with a three to make it a 6-point game. Nick Calathes answered with a steal for an easy layup, but Fran Vasquez made 2 free throws after another offensive rebound. Panathinaikos did manage to catch up before the end of the first quarter, as a Diamantidis layup and three-pointer made it 20-21.
Victor Sada put first 4 points on scoreboard at the beginning of the second quarter, and Kostas Tsartsaris made a three from the corner to keep Greens close, 23-25. Rabaseda’s free-throws and Wallace three-pointer put Barcelona up by 7, but Logan drove to the basket and dunked in a transition while Diamantidis hit a runner to cut it back to 29-32. Barcelona kept the lead through Wallace and Pete Mickeal, and Huertas scored in transition to make it 31-38 with little less than three minutes to go in the half. Vasquez twice made it a 9-point lead with a jumper and a tip-in, but Nick Calathes and Logan answered back to prevent Barcelona from extending the lead. However the Spanish champions reached a double-digit advantage with an easy dunk by Kosta Perovic and 2 free throws by Huertas that gave them 37-48 halftime lead.
Both teams struggled offensively to start the second half and Panathinaikos’s defense raised its level of intensity to keep Barcelona without a field goal for more than 6 minutes. On the other side, three dunks by Aleks Maric – two of them as follow-ups to his teammates misses – made it 43-49. The Greens failed to fully capitalize on their defensive dominance as Maric and Tsartsaris made only 2 of 6 free throws over the next two minutes to make it a 4-point game. Wallace’s triple ended Barcelona’s drought and Ingles’s basket-plus-foul made it 47-55 with minute and a half left in the quarter, but Diamantidis cut the deficit to 52-58 with a pair of free throws and a three-pointer that ended the third quarter.
Ingles returned the favor by hitting a triple on the first possession of the fourth quarter, and an easy layup by Wallace got Barcelona again to a double-digit advantage with seven minutes to go, 52-63. Kostas Kaimakoglou and Diamantidis made back-to-back threes that pulled Panathinaikos very quickly within 5. Ingles then made couple of free throws and Diamantidis banked one shot to make it 60-65. Panathinaikos held Barcelona without a field goal for more than four minutes, but Chuck Eidson put an end to that with a three that gave his team once again 8-point lead. After a timeout Eidson hit a long jumper, but Kaimakoglou hit a three-pointer to make it 65-70. The same player had a chance to cut the deficit even more, but he missed both free throws. Maric’s put-back dunk did bring Panathinaikos closer however Diamantidis and Kaimakoglou each missed three-pointers that would have made it a 1-point game. In the last 30 seconds of the game Huertas made no mistake from the charity stripe. Maric tipped in a miss by Diamantidis to leave his team with a chance of a comeback, but time ran out on the Greens’ hopes and Barcelona went home with the win.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Igor Petrinovic, Euroleague.net - Istanbul