Barcelona got revenge and a new piece of first place as a superb shooting night gave it an easy 104-82 win against visiting Cibona Zagreb in Group A on Wednesday. A rolicking 18-0 run in the second quarter pretty much delivered the win for the Spanish team. Barcelona, now 10-3, was just trying to secure the best second-place record across the three groups, but ended up drawing even with Benetton, which lost at Skipper simultaneously. The same would have to happen next week - Barca winning while Benetton loses - for the Spaniards to finish first in Group A, however. On Wednesday, Barca went on a shooting spree and finished having hit 62.5% of its two-point shots (25 of 40) and an amazing 84.6% of its triples (11 of 13). Sarunas Jasikevicius and J.C. Navarro led the way with 17 points each and did not miss in 8 three-point attempts between them. Cibona, which dropped to 6-7, is already qualified for the Top 16 despite the loss because of its tiebreak advantage over sixth-place Pau-Orthez (5-8). Haris Mujezinovic with 17 points and Slaven Rimac with 16 led Cibona in scoring. With the victory, Barcelona also took revenge for its first loss of the season in Zagreb.
The game remained even only in the first minutes, when Mujezinovic scored easily over Gregor Fucka. Mujezinovic was the man of tha game at that moment, scoring his team's first 12 points with 5 baskets, including 2 three-pointers without a miss. Cibona led 10-12. Both teams were shooting at will in the beginning, but thigns started to change when Barca coach Svetislav Pesic put Anderson Varejao on the floor. Barcelona improved very much its defense and kept scoring in every possesion. Cibona could not prevent the Spanish team from continuing to score with a zone, either. Barcelona took a 10-point lead for the first time at 24-16 in under 8 minutes. At the end of the first quarter, the locals held the same 8 points to defend, 28-20.
The game became a blowout in the second quarter. Barcelona had very good defense still, sometimes with fullcourt pressure, and things got even worse for Cibona. The Spanish needed only 4 minutes to amass that 18-0 run, with the score soaring to 51-24 after 17 minutes. Dejan Bodiroga played as a playmaker for a while and Navarro converted 2 three-pointers in this quarter. On the other side, Prkacin, who had scored 21 points in Zagreb, when this two teams met for the first time this season, did not score until the 17th minute. At halftime, Barcelona was leading 58-33. Navarro (11) and Rodrigo De la Fuente (10) were the best scorers for a very well-balanced offense, in which all nine players who saw action so far had scored. Mujezinovic was the only on doing so for Cibona, with 15 points.
Rimac played his best basketball in the third quarter, scoring 11 points on 4 shots without a miss, but Barcelona was an unstoppable machine tonight. The Spanish team had a 28-point lead (61-33) and when the Croatians put it below the 20-point mark (74-55) the home team replied inmediatly with 2 three-pointers from Navarro and another one from Jasikevicius to regain its maximum lead, 83-55. The third quarter ended 85-58.
Everything was written already in this game and the only interesting thing remaining was ust how many points was Barcelona to get at the end. It was 22 (104-82) after a maximum lead of 31 points, at 94-63, with 6 minutes remaining. Only then did the players of the home team take some rest, but the 22-point margin could give Barca an advantage in potential cross-group ties for the top second-place record overall.
Wednesday, February 5, 2003