AXA F.C. Barcelona met tough defense with more of its own and solidified its position near the top of Group C as it downed visiting Brose Baskets Bamberg 80-58 on Thursday. Barcelona boasts a 5-2 record halfway through the regular season and will either share second or third place after Thursday's games mark the halfway point in the regular season. Barcelona and Fenerbahce are tied for third now, but could move up if second-place Real Madrid cannot defeat undefeated Panathinaikos on the road. Bamberg, meanwhile, dropped to 1-6 and shares last place in Group C with Lottomatica Roma. A close game turned completely the way of the hosts after halftime, when the Barcelona defense closed down Bamberg completely. Barcelona's five double-figure scorers were led by big Mario Kasun, with 14 points. Jaka Lakovic added 12, Alex Acker and Fran Vazquez 11 each, and Jordi Trias 10 for the winners. By contrast, only Demond Greene and Tim Ohlbrecht reached double figures for Bamberg, with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Bamberg's big problem, however, was 18 turnovers.
Fran Vazquez, Gianluca Basile and Kasun at the foul line got Barcelona a 6-0 lead before Okulaja drove for Bamberg's first points. Acker topped that with a triple, however, to make it 9-2 and force a Bamberg timeout. The visitors buttoned uip their defense then, and got their second basket in 6 minutes from Chris Ensminger on a rebound, then a corner triple from Greene to make it 11-7. Basile and Ensminger traded baskets, but it was all defense now. Barcelona got only free throws then and Bamberg a breakaway dunk from Robert Garrett as the first quarter ended 16-11.
Tim Ohlbrecht flashed to the hoop and Garrett bombed from the corner as Bamberg suddenly tied it up, 16-16, to open the second quaerter. Acker was ready with a triple to answer, but Darren Fenn did likewise for Bamberg, making it 19-19. Now offense ruled as Jordi Trias dunked and Acker blasted another three-pointer from the corner for a 24-19 Barcelona lead. Bamberg took another timeout, after which Greene downed his own corner triple, but Barca stayed up with technical free throws by Lackovic and a shot in traffic by Acker. Scorers kept getting loose now loose now as Predrag Suput downed 4 points and Olbrecht rolled to the basket again to get Bamberg close again, at 30-28. A second-chance triple by Lakovic was answered immediately by Greene, but Bamberg's defense slept as Trias converted consecutive fastbreaks and Barcelona reached halftime ahead by 37-33.
Roger Grimau's layup after the break was answer by Fenn from the corner for a 39-36 scoreboard that stayed that way until Kasun hooked for the hosts. Shots flew without falling now, even free throws, but Kasun barrelled to the basket and tipped in a miss to give Barcelona its biggest lead yet, 45-36. Bamberg's timeout then helped little as Kasun keep adding to the lead, which reached 49-36 before the visitors found Olbrecht for 2 points. Mark Dickel and Okulaja soon added free throws, but 9 points was all as Bamberg would score in the quarter, while Barcelona marched confidently to a 55-42 advantage after 30 minutes.
The last quarter opened with Barcelona going inside to Kasun and Vazquez to extend the lead to 59-42 before Fenn put down a corner triple for Bamberg. Free throws by Greene got the guests within 59-47, but that was as close as they would come the rest of the way. A jump-hook by Vazquez, a layup in traffic by Albert Moncasi and a booming triple by Lakovic left a 66-49 scoreboard and no doubt about the outcome.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007