Barcelona showed once again exactly why it leads Group A when it dismissed visiting Lottomatica Roma 86-65 on Wednesday. Even without leader Dejan Bodiroga, who is still injured, Barcelona had no trouble in ending Lottomatica's three-game win streak and lifting its own record to 7-1. Lottomatica fell to 3-5 and part of a three-way tie with Ulker and AEK. Barca commanded the scoreboard with a 17-7 run to start the game and never looked back. Roger Grimau led the winners with 17 points, his best Euroleague performance yet, and picked up 4 steals. Juan Carlos Navarro and Roberto Dueñas added 13 points each for Barca. Roma got 17 points from Marko Tusek and 13 from Corey Alexander.
Barcelona needed only 6 minutes to seize a 10-point lead, 17-7, with a triple from Ilievski and 6 points from Femerling, who was the big force in the middle with Fucka. Lottomatica center Rashard Griffith then came in the game when Cal Bowdler took his second foul in 5 minutes. Barcelona got its biggest lead, 24-8, before coach Svetislav Pesic made the first change for his team. Lottomatica could only add another basket before the first quarter ended 24-10.
Both teams scored easily at the beginning of the second quarter as the scoreboard rolled up to 32-19 after 13 minutes. Anderson Varejao was pacing Barca then and Alex Righetti doing the same for Lottomatica. Visiting coach Piero Bucchi sent Carlton Myers back on the floor, but he was to score only 5 points in the first half. On the other side, Barcelona used some fastbreaks spearheaded by Roger Grimau and the inside play of Varejao and Dueñas to forge a 19-point lead at 46-27, which Roma was only able to cut into by a basket as the half ended 46-29. Navarro was up to 9 points and Femerling 8 for Barcelona by then, while Tusek led Lottomatica with 8.
Barcelona was unable to score for the first 4 minutes, 47 seconds of the second half, until Navarro made a "little bomb", but in that span, Lottomatica could only produce 6 points of its own, which also came on three-pointers, by Lubos Barton and Myers. As such, with a 9-2 reaction, the Spanish side took another good lead at 55-37. The drama level of the game dropped with the feeling that everything was almost decided with the champions holing an 18-point lead on their own floor, even though Lottomatica was able to bring it down to 58-43 after 30 minutes.
The last quarter was a one-team show, too. Barcelona kept its best plays for the end of the game. Only Tusek, with 9 points in the quarter, was able to make something in the Italian offense. With 3 minutes remaining there were two alley-oops in a row, the first with Nacho Rodríguez and Grimau, the second with Navarro and Varejao. An 8-0 run put the score at 84-57, the maximum lead, before Alexander gave Lottomatica the last three-pointers of the game, and only with those was the final margin dropped to 21 points.
Wednesday, January 7, 2004
Juan Antonio Casanova, Barcelona