Barcelona assured itself second place in Group B and endangered Ulker's chances of survival by beating the Turkish guests with ease, 85-64, on Thursday night. Ulker, which began as a constant menace for the hosts, ended up fading on court and Barcelona prevailed after a strong reaction led by Arturas Karnisovas from the 6.25 line and Roberto Dueñas in the paint. This win improves Barcelona's record to 10-3, and Ulker drops to 8-5 but still with options to make it to the Top 16. The hosts were led by the 18 points by Karnisovas, while Rodrigo de la Fuente and Efthimios Rentzias added 17 each, and the latter added 12 rebounds. Roberto Dueñas hit 14 points plus 12 boards. For the losers, Harun Erdenay had 16 points and Miljan Glojevic added 10.
The game started with both teams collecting offense mistakes, but somehow Ulker got the better part of it, and got into a 2-5 lead with an unbelievable three-pointer by Yildrim, whose intention was to pass the ball. Barcelona was always behind in the score, until Arturas Karnisovas hit a three that neutralized the deficit and put the hosts ahead by 1, 15-14. At that point the game had improved, even though the scoring was somewhat poor with a 15-18 score at the end of the first tenminutes.
The second quarter was much more fast in all aspects. Karnisovas was the main offensive weapon for the Catalans with his three-pointers (he netted 2 in 3 minutes), but Ulker came back with a 0-6 run for 20-26. It was clear that the team which would pull away by 10 would be in total control of the game, and the guests looked more like they would do it. Varejao stepped on court for Barcelona, hoping to be the medicine for coach Aito Garcia Reneses' team, since Ulker was batter both in offense and defense and William Eley was outplaying Dueñas everywhere (the latter had collected 4 turnovers in the first half). But Varejao couldn't do much as three free throws by Erdenay built a 32-36 lead again for Ulker. The teams went to the break with 34-39 after a three on the buzzer by Miljan Goljevic.
Ulker came back on court strong, and this put together with the 13 turnovers of the Catalans put the Turks away by 7, 43-50. Yet another three by Karnisovas would be the basket that would change the direction of the game because from the 47-54 to the end of the game, Ulker would score only 10 more points for the rest of the game, while Barcelona sped up to victory, and at the end of the third was already leading by 2, 60-58.
The fourth quarter saw how Barcelona outplayed the rival in every aspect, most significantly in rebounding (46-22 at the end of the game) and scoring, since the hosts built a 18-2 run from 51-56 in the third period to 69-58 in the fourth that literally destroyed all the options of the guests. Barcelona was scoring from everywhere outside by the hand of Rentzias and De la Fuente, and the inside game by Dueñas became dominant as it is supposed to. The partial score of the final period was 25-6 and it speaks for itself as the game ended with a 21-point lead for Barcelona and the crowd amazed at the reaction by its team.
Thursday, February 7, 2002
Edu Roca, Barcelona