Winterthur FC Barcelona took a crucial step towards reaching a playoff spot in Top 16 Group F by edging Efes Pilsen 82-73 at home in Palau Blaugrana, Spain on Thursday night. Barcelona improved to 2-1 and is second in the Group F standings right behind the unbeaten leader, Panathinaikos, first at 3-0. Meanwhile, Efes Pilsen dropped to 0-3 and needs a major comeback to get to the next round. Juan Carlos Navarro led the winners with 24 points on 6-of-10 three-pointers. Jaka Lakovic added 15 and 6 assists while Jordi Trias and Fran Vazquez each had 10 for Barcelona. Marcus Haislip had 18 points for Efes, Drew Nicholas added 16, Cuneyt Erden 15 on 5-of-7 three-pointers while Niksa Prkacin scored 10 points for the guests. The game saw as many as 10 lead changes in the first half, but Vazquez had 4 points in a 11-0 run that gave Barcelona a 37-30 lead at the break. Efes rallied in the final period and a four-point play by Nicholas gave his team a 67-68 edge midway through the final period. Navarro had 8 points in a game-breaking 11-2 run that sealed the outcome down the stretch.
Lakovic got Barcelona going with a four-meter jumper but Erden answered from downtown for a 2-3 Efes edge. Basile fired in his first three-pointer but Haislip matched it with a layup-plus-foul to keep Efes ahead, 5-6. A red hot Basile nailed another triple that Trias followed with a reverse layup for a 10-6 Barcelona lead. Nicholas fed Erden for his second bomb from downtown but Barcelona kept finding troubles to adjust its man-to-man defense. Meanwhile, Navarro joined the three-point festival but a driving basket by Haislip and an easy layup by Prkacin tied the game again, 13-13. Vazquez provided a highlight with a power dunk but free throws by Haislip and a stop-and-pop jumper by Nicholas provided another lead change, 15-17. Trias hit a five-meter shot but a corner triple by Fikret Can Akin gave Efes a 17-20 edge after 10 minutes.
Haislip took over with a fallaway jumper right at the start of the second quarter. Vazquez matched it with a six-meter shot while Roger Grimau buried a corner triple to tie it at 22-22. Trias capped a 7-0 run with a dunk that put Barcelona back ahead, 24-22. Efes called timeout and Antonio Granger fired in a triple from the right wing but Trias scored again for a 26-25 Barcelona edge. Efes found a go-to guy in Erden, who nailed another three-pointer to which Grimau quickly answered with a driving layup to tie it at 28-28. Barcelona kept powering the boards and did not allow open shots now. Kakiouzis had a huge block on Kerem Gonlum and scored in the other end while Lakovic added a running triple to make Efes call timeout at 33-28. The guests kept struggling to score, while Vazquez followed a layup with free throws to cap an 11-0 run. A wild put-back dunk by Haislip brought Efes within 37-30 at halftime.
Navarro shined with a driving basket right after the break, as Efes kept struggling to score, even missing open shots now - until Nicholas buried a big triple. Lakovic answered from downtown but Erden - who else? - took over with his fourth three-pointer. Navarro and Nicholas joined the three-point shootout, as both teams kept exchanging baskets at full speed. Navarro followed a fast break layup with another bomb from downtown, but Haislip also hit a triple for a 50-44 Efes deficit. Nicholas shined with a fast break basket that made Barcelona call timeout at 50-46. Trias stepped up with a baseline jumper but Prkacin scored in the low post and Nicholas dunked it to get Efes even closer, 52-50. Lakovic hit a big shot and Vazquez added a tip-in to give the hosts some air at 56-50. Haislip made foul shots and Prkacin scored inside while Navarro and Akin traded triples before a huge put-back dunk by Prkacin tied it at 59-59 after 30 minutes.
Vazquez left the game early in the final period with a back injury but Kakiouzis stepped up with a corner triple to give Barcelona a 62-59 edge. Efes went scoreless for more than 2 minutes while Kakiouzis hit a long jumper to make the guests call timeout at 64-59. Erden fired in another three-pointer but Lakovic answered from downtown to keep the hosts ahead, 67-62. Efes was not done, however, as Gonlum shined with a fast break layup while Nicholas simply took over with a critical four-point play to give his team a 67-68 edge. Navarro - a 90% free throw shooter - missed foul shots but hit a consecutive three-pointers to put Barcelona back ahead, 73-68, with under 3 minutes to go. Haislip hit free throws but Basile buried a triple to make it a six-point game, 76-70. Navarro hit free throws to put the victory on ice, as even when Granger nailed one from downtown, it happen to be too little, too late for the guests.
Thursday, March 1, 2007