Barcelona beat Union Olimpija 76-58
Regal FC Barcelona defeated Union Olimpija Ljubljana 76-58 on Thursday night at the Palau Blaugrana to finish the Top 16 with a perfect record. The reigning Euroleague champs now move on to the Quarterfinal Playoffs to face 2009 champs Panathinaikos. Union Olimpija put up a good fight, but dropped to 1-5 and bids farewell to Europe’s elite competition for this season. Jaka Lakovic paced the winners with 12 points and Joe Ingles and Fran Vazquez added 10 apiece, while Boniface NDong scored 9. For Union Olimpija, Kenny Gregory and Goran Jagodnik recorded 13 pòints apiece, while Damir Markota and Aloysius Anagonye tacked on 11 each. Gregory was also the game’s leading rebounder, with 7 boards in defeat.
Markota scored the game’s first bucket off an offensive rebound and Giorgi Shermadini confirmed the visitors would try to hit inside with an early post move, but Barcelona also showed it meant business with early Terence Morris and Lakovic triples, and soon the hosts doubled the score, 12-6, on a couple of inside power moves by Kosta Perovic and Vazquez. Ingles joined the three-point fest after the visiting defense collapsed on the big men, but Jagodnik was able to answer from beyond the arc before the opening quarter ended at 21-19.
With the visitors struggling to hit perimeter shots in the second quarter and both teams battling it out in the trenches, the pace slowed down some through the rest of the half, even though Gregory started things up with a dunk and Lakovic stayed hot from long distance with another three-point shot. With Ricky Rubio feeling the groove en route to a 6-assist game and some tight defense, Barcelona was able to pull away with 9 unanswered points before Markota hit consecutive shots and a Saso Ozbolt jumper maintained Olimpija at a respectable distance, 35-31, entering halftime.
Barcelona tried to control the tempo at the start of the second half with inside balls to towering Kosta Perovic in its half court sets and Alan Anderson breaking loose for an emphatic dunk that made it 43-31. Olimpija stayed in the hunt, however, with alert defense and good ball movement on offense, notching a Gregory layup after an Anagonye steal and another bucket by the latter to close in at 44-41. A Roger Grimau penetration capped the 1-10 run and Barça found NDong in the paint before Anagonye hit a bankshot that kept it a two-possession. But Lakovic swished a triple to end the quarter and the final period was reached at a 51-44 disadvantage for the visitors.
Lakovic took off where he had left off after the break and hit a triple before Shermaidini tried to give his team a boost with a spectacular block of a NDong dunk attempt. Olimpija kept pushing it even with a 13-point deficit looming midway through the quarter, driving with Gregory and hitting the glass hard against Barcelona’s imposing frontcourt size. Good floor spacing by the visitors allowed Jagodnik to shake loose for a triple, but the hosts’ defense kept aggressive and active with Rubio, Grimau and Victor Sada on the floor. Still, Jagodnik kept feeling it from beyond the arc and dropped another bomb to make it 64-55 with four minutes left. But the Spanish side stayed stout on defense, as Rubio was all over the place while also directing the offense, finding Ingles open for a triple that made it 69-57 with less than three minutes to go. The visitors tried to speed up the rally with long-distance shots and attacking the offensive glass through Markota , but Morris hit a dagger three and Vazquez and Ingles put the finishing touches with consecutive dunks that resulted in a unattainable 16-point deficit for Union Olimpija in the final minute.
Thursday, March 3, 2011