A new Euroleague season started well for Winterthur FC Barcelona as it steeped strong into Group B with a handy 86-70 victory over visiting Olympiacos Piraeus. The hosts dominated the game most of the time, except for some minutes of the second quarter when the Reds managed to almost tie. But Juan Carlos Navarro scored 13 straight points for Barcelona then on his way to a game-high 26 and a comfortable win for the hosts. Bootsy Thornton and Jordi Trias helped him with 12 points each to give Barcelona a 1-0 start and its fans visions of good things to come. Tyus Edney and Nikos Hatzis were the best men for Olympiacos with 16 points apiece, while Lazaros Agadakos and Quincy Lewis posted 11 each. The 18 turnovers suffered by Olympiacos, as opposed to just 10 by Barca, were too much despite a better performance of the guests from the arc (53%) and in rebounds (26-30).
A packed Palau Blaugrana welcomed the Euroleague's return when Marconato scored the first layup, while Kakiouzis and Navarro connected for a quick 6-0 lead. Panagiotis Vassilopoulos blasted a three the first Olympiacos points of the season. The Reds tried through Edney to sort out a solution to Barca's tough man-to-man defense, but the shots didn't go in and Williams poured some salt in the visitors' wound with his first triple for an 11-3 scoreboard. The Reds changed to a zone defense and seemed to slow Barca down as Edney's jumper made it 11-6. But Barca pushed the gas as Williams scored, stole and asssisted Kakiozuis to make it 17-8. Nikos Hatzis appeared for the first time with back-to-back jumpers but Kakiouzis replied with a triple to double the Reds' score on the way to a 26-16 Barcelona edge after 10 minutes.
Marconato also opened the second-quarter scoring, too, this time with free throws, but a triple by Nikos Barlos and a clean jumper by Lazaros Agadakos pulled Olympiacos within 28-21.Olympiacos alternated defenses within the same possessions, confusing Barca into turnovers during a 3-9 run that made it 29-23 after a layup by Vassilopoulos. The hosts had a hard time in finding the bottom of the net but finally Bootsy Thornton fed Jordi Trias for a dunk. After Quincy Lewis nailed a triple, Barlos scored again for a 31-28 difference. The Reds were showing much more toughness on defense, while Edney extended their run to 0-7 and a 31-30 score. That woke up Navarro, who hit 8 straight points, including two triples, for 39-30. Andrija Zizic scored against his ex-team, but Navarro again, replied with 5 more points including a new triple for a personal 13-1 run that let Barca breath easily, 44-31, at the break.
Lewis opened the second half with a three-pointer for the Reds, but Trias replied with a four-point play, triples plus free throw. The hosts reached a 18-point lead, 52-34, when Williams hit another layup and Marconato slammed. Barlos found a connection with Renaldas Seibutis, opening a period of quick baskets on both sides, including 5 more points by Navarro who was bringing the house down with a triple for 57-38. Although Edney did his best, Barca went over the 20-point mark again with a new basket by Trias. Navarro simply scored from everywhere in every fashion until he went to the bench with 26 points. Nonetheless, young subs Victor Sada, Trias and Marc Gasol allowed the Barcelona fans to enjoy a 69-46 lead after three quarters.
A good move in the baseline allowed Agadakos to open the last quarter for Olympiacos, but Thornton stepped up with a triple to solve a play that only had two seconds in the shot clock, 74-53. With the big difference, Barca players lowered their arms a bit and the Reds used that to score a few baskets, especially through Hatzis, but it was still 83-64 in minute 37. Thornton blasted a new triple to bring the house down one more time in the last minute to let everyone know that the new Winterthur FC Barcelona also will fight for it all this season.
Thursday, November 3, 2005