Tomic double-double leads Barcelona over champs
FC Barcelona Regal smothered reigning champion Olympiacos Piraeus en route to a 76-68 victory at Palau Blaugrana on Friday night. Barca kept Olympiacos star Vassilis Spanoulis to a season-low 9 points in rolling to a victory, which keeps Coach Xavi Pascual’s men one-victory behind the Group F leaders. Olympiacos dropped to 1-2. Barcelona was in control for much of the contest and though the Reds got within4 in both the second and third quarters and within 6 in the fourth, they were never able to get within one possession. Ante Tomic paced Barcelona with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Pete Mickael posted 12 points and 4 blocked shots and Marcelinho Huertas, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Victor Sada netted 10 each. The bad news for Barca is that scoring king Juan Carlos Navarro, who was closing in on his 3,000th career point, left the game in the third quarter with an injury. Georgios Printezis was the top scorer for Olympiacos, which shot 38.4% from the floor in the game. Spanoulis finished without a three-pointer for the first time all season and had 5 assists, but 4 turnovers.
First quarter: Barca takes charge early through defense
A quick three-pointer from Kostas Papanikolaou gave Olympiacos the early advantage, and it wasn't until almost two minutes in that Barcelona opened its account. That came from a Mickeal layup. Navarro hit a layup that put Barcelona ahead for the first time, 8-7. A run of 6 unanswered points extended the lead for the Spanish champs before the first timeout. Straight after, a Navarro floater made it 16-9 and Nate Jawai showed off his defensive skills with a huge block on Acie Law. Two disallowed Barcelona baskets had the fans at Palau Blaugrana on their feet, only adding to a fantastic atmosphere. A pair of blocks for Jawai and defensive rebounds for CJ Wallace showed the home side's ability to keep Olympiacos quiet – in particular Spanoulis, who had just 2 points to his name at the end of the 18-13 first quarter.
Second quarter: Shermandini helps keep Reds in the game
A triple from Sarunas Jasikevicius gave Barcelona an 8-point lead to start the second quarter, and the difference was kept up by a smooth three-pointer from Marcelinho. Olympiacos's response wasn't pretty, but it kept the road team in contention: Close range layups and trips to the free throw line made it a 4-point game. Shutting the champs' strategy off, Mickael took over from Jawai as Barca's shot-blocking king midway through the quarter, with 2 rejections in rapid succession. Spanoulis began to get into the game for Olympiacos with a series of drives down the lane, but there was only mixed success for the star guard as Barcelona showed off its strong defense. Olympiacos needed a big presence in the paint and got one in the form of new signing Giorgi Shermadini -on both sides of the court. Shermandini put down 6 points in the quarter and was able to keep Barcelona from dominating inside. Trips to the foul line for both sides slowed the pace of the game down, until Jawai erupted with a highlight-reel worthy alley-oop off Navarro's pass. Barcelona was in control come halftime, with a 41-32 lead.
Third quarter: Champs find touch, claw within 4
Georgos Printezis began the fight back for Olympiacos after the restart, sinking a nothing-but-net triple, a two-pointer in the paint and another basket from beyond the arc. Spanoulis joined in the third quarter scoring, as an Olympiacos side that had shot with just 34% accuracy in the first half became more clinical. Barcelona used the inside games of Erazem Lorbek, Tomic and Mickeal to maintain a lead that had been held since the opening quarter. Olympiacos briefly cut the gap to 4 points, before the home team regrouped and went 60-52 at the end of the third quarter that was capped by Tomic's graceful dunk.
Fourth quarter: Barcelona remains stoic in the finish
Marcelinho led the Barcelona charge in the fourth quarter, as he reset the lead to 11 points with energetic drives inside and a flashy behind-the-back assist for Tomic. The Brazilian guard replaced Navarro, who hobbled off in the third quarter and was rested from then on. Olympiacos resorted to outside shots in an attempt to cut the deficit and Pero Antic hit two clean three-pointers in succession. Evangelos Mantzaris sent down another for Olympiacos, taking the score to 74-66 with just three minutes left on the clock. The hustle of Jasikevicius looked to have Barcelona in a position to run down the game, but a foul gave Olympiacos two possessions in which to pull back a 6-point deficit. The Greek champs were unable to do so, and a trip to the foul line for Victor Sada sealed the win for Barcelona, 76-68.
Friday, January 11, 2013