A Sarunas Jasikevicius jump shot on the run at the buzzer lifted Barcelona to a thrilling, and possibly life-preserving, 87-88 Group E road win over Scavolini in Pesaro on Wednesday. After having trailed by up to 10 points during most of the game, a slow fourth-quarter comeback put the visitors in a position to decide the game and their immediate future in Group E. Jasikevicius did not flinch in taking that chance, as he raced the length of the court with the final possession, stopped inside the three-point arc and popped in the winner. The shot raised Barcelona's record to 1-1, while Scavolini drops to 0-2. The frontcourt duo of Arturas Karnisovas and Efthimios Rentzias led the winners with 15 points each. Jasikevicius added 11, Roberto Dueñas and J.C. Navarro 10 each. For the losers, Melvin Booker netted 28 points. Joseph Blair contributed 14 in his Euroleague re-appearance, and both Marko Tusek and Larry Middleton had 13 points.
Scavolini started with Silvio Gigena at small forward and Middleton scored the opening three-pointer at 4-1. The hosts played aggressively on defense and tried to open the court using long-distance shots. After just 3 minutes, Roberto Dueñas had already picked up two fouls and had to take a seat. Barcelona arrived early at the bonus and Scavolini took advantage of this opportunity but found themselves in foul trouble as well before the midpoint of the period. The first Spanish advantage came on an Efthimios Rentzias three to bring it to 12-13. The game was fast and the offensive talent outshined that of the defenses, which made for a great show for the fans. The period ended in a 23-23 tie with Booker and Karnisovas both posting 7 points.
The second quarter opened with Navarro on fire while Andrea Pecile committed his third foul, but the duo of Booker-Middleton sparked a 5-0 run that gave a 32-27 lead to the hosts. Blair was dominant in the paint and Barcelona brought Dueñas back on the floor because young Anderson Varejao was just not ready for this kind of fight inside. Michele Maggioli slam dunked the ball off a pass by Blair which gave Scavolini a 10-point, 39-29 advantage. The game highlighted the best of the two offenses and every defensive mistake was punished with a basket. Barcelona came back to within 46-41 but Scavolini managed to distance itself a little further before the halftime buzzer as they entered the locker rooms with a nine-point lead, 50-41. Scavolini had three players already in double figures, led by Booker's 14. Blair and Middleton each had 10. Barcelona was led in scoring by Karnisovas's 10 and followed by 6 from Navarro.
The third period started at full speed with both teams on fire. Booker and Karnisovas were the protagonists of the opening minutes with the latter well supported by Dueñas. Middleton stopped short the Spaniards' first run with a three-pointer that gave Scavolini a 61-52 lead. Booker scored his 19th point of the game as he extended his team's margin to 11 points, 65-54, midway through the period. Barcelona aligned in a box-and-one so that Booker was guarded by Navarro, but Scavolini broke through the box and took a 68-54 advantage. Barcelona replied with bombs from behind the arc but Scavolini matched them as the home team managed to mantain their double-figure advantage. Barcelona in the last minute used a zone-press to break the home team fastbreak and immediately stole the ball. After a timeout, Scavolini showed good organization and finished the period up 74-64.
Barcelona started the final period tougher on defense and made an 0-4 run, but Maggioli, again assisted by Blair, made a three-point play to keep the 11-point advantage at 79-68. But Barcelona stayed in the game and forced Middleton into committing his fifth foul with 5:22 to go. Two consecutive three-pointers by Rentzias gave Barcelona their smallest deficit since very early in the game at 81-76. Scavolini then missed four free throws (two by Gigena and two by Tusek) and Barcelona arrived at 81-78 on a Navarro alley-oop. Suddenly, it was a game again. Barcelona continued to use its zone press and Scavolini had Booker working to draw fouls and earn opportunities from the line. He converted 6 for 6 for an 87-82 lead. Rentzias then scored on an alley-oop and Pecile was called for a charge which allowed Jasikevicius to bring it within one at 87-86. Immeidately following, Rentzias missed the go-ahead shot. With just 8.7 seconds to go, Jasikevicius hauled in a loose ball at the Barcelona defensive end and flew down the length of the court. He pulled up a couple of feet inside the arc on the right side and released, at the buzzer, the game-winning shot that sealed the come from behind, 87-88 victory.
Wednesday, March 6, 2002