Regal FC Barcelona topped Maccabi Electra 81-71
Defending champion Regal FC Barcelona picked up a statement win at the start of the Top 16 by downing the Euroleague’s hottest team, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, 81-71 at Palau BlauGrana. Juan Carlos Navarro torched Maccabi for a season-high 24 points, making 5 of 10 three-pointers and 9 of 10 free throws. He became the second player in Euroleague Basketball history to score 2,500 career points with a triple in the opening quarter. Navarro also dished 5 assists as Barcelona won its 13th straight Top 16 game at home, a streak that goes back to 2006. The game was a close affair with Barcelona leading much of the time and Maccabi constantly closing the gap. The visitors were within 4 with four minutes left, but ran out of steam and Barcelona iced the win. Alan Anderson, who led Maccabi in scoring last season, added 16 points in his first Euroleague game for Barcelona. Kosta Perovic followed with 12 points, Terence Morris scored 11 and Fran Vazquez 10, while Ricky Rubio dished 8 assists. Doron Perkins and Richard Hendrix netted 13 each for Maccabi and Sofoklis Schortsanitis bagged 12. The loss ended Maccabi’s nine-game winning streak.
Both team s got good looks early, but nearly two minutes went by before Perkins twisted to score on the break. Navarro punished a Maccabi zone for Barcelona’s first basket. Barcelona got baskets on the offensive glass from Anderson and Perovic , but Perkins was fouled shooting a three-pointer and made the resulting free throws to even the score at 7-7. Ricky Rubio created space for another Navarro three and the Barcelona scored made a third after a timeout. The hosts then used size, getting baskets from Erazem Lorbek and Perovic to take a double-digit lead. Maccabi regrouped with a timeout after which Perkins cut to the basket and scored, but Perovic answered immediately with a baseline jumper. Jeremy Pargo cut into the deficit by penetrating for a basket-plus-foul and Chuck Eidson found Hendrix in the last second to make it 21-16 after 10 minutes.
A Pargo slam gave Maccabi the momentum, but Vazquez kept Barcelona up 25-20. David Blu struck a textbook three-pointer to cut the gap to a basket and then Tal Burstein’s first points tied the score at 27-27. Hendrix scored from the line after an offensive rebound to give Maccabi’s its first lead since the opening minutes. Jaka Lakovic connected from downtown and then put his team ahead with an alley-oop pass to Anderson. The lead switched hands on almost every basket for several minutes, with the two teams battling to a standstill. Barcelona emerged first as Anderson made it 37-35 with a triple and then Navarro added points from the line. Pekins set Hendrix up for a slam and then Blu fed Hendrix, who drew a foul from Perovic, but missed the resulting free throws, leaving his team down 41-37 at halftime.
Barcelona came out aggressive for the second half and struck fast through Perovic inside and Anderson off a steal. Sofoklis Schortsanitis answered for the visitors, but Morris got involved with his first 4 points. Eidson scored a nifty basket off an inbounds pass. Soon Barcelona was up by double figures again when Rubio spotted Navarro for a triple. Maccabi started to get Lior Eliyahu involved and Guy Pnini hit a three from the corner to cut the gap to 54-46. Vazquez muscled his way for a bucket in the paint and Rubio fed Roger Grimau for a fast break layup. The Morris drilled a triple to put the crowd on its feet. A three-from Pnini kept Maccabi within 63-53 heading into the fourth quarter.
Pnini was called for an unsportsmanlike foul when he stopped Rubio on a fastbreak, but the hosts only got 1 point out of it. But a minute later, Barca had the crowd rocking when Rubio dished to Morris for a vicious slam. Maccabi persisted and Perkins found Big Sofo underneath to cut the gap to 66-59. After a timeout, Navarro used the tight defense on him to find Perovic for a slam. Schortsanitis was blocked, but fought for the rebound and set up Perkins for a layup, however Navarro sank a step-back three at the other end. Schortsanitis drew fouls and scored from the line to keep Maccabi challenging. The Hendrix got the ball for a hook shot and basket off a dish from Eidson to make it 71-67 with less than four minutes remaining , leading to a Barca timeout. Navarro drove through the big men, missed, but got his own rebound, drew a foul and split 2 free throws. Pnini attacked the rim, but missed and Vazquez responded with a clutch baseline jumper. Blu missed an open three from the corner and with 2:01 left in the game, Anderson added a free throw to further shrink Maccabi’s chances. Perkins fouled out on the next play and Pargo soon followed as the hosts held on to win for a strong start to the Top 16.
Thursday, January 20, 2011