Barcelona remains undefeated in Group B after an amazing fourth quarter surge lifted it past host Union Olimpija 69-83 in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Thursday. Barcelona outscored Olimpija 7-26 in the final quarter to sweep to victory. Christian Drejer was decisive for Barcelona, as his 10 points in the last quarter allowed the guests to get the first and only double-digit lead of the night. Barca is now 2-0 while Olimpija drops to 0-2 in a very tough group where home and away have had little meaning so far. Drejer led Barca with 17 points, including 2 of 4 triples. Juan Carlos Navarro added 15, Roberto Dueñas and Dejan Bodiroga had 13 apiece and Gregor Fucka nailed 12. For Olimpija, Marino Bazdaric led the way with 20 points, including 4 of 9 triples, while Dusan Bocevski and Saso Ozbolt added 15 each. The Olimpija shooters had a tough night however, making only 7 of 27 three-point attempts.
Bocevski started the game fast, with a quick jumper from 5 meters, then offensive rebounds by Vladimer Boisa sent Marijan Mance for a layup and a 4-0 Olimpija lead. Barca's zone defense was no obstacle for Olimpija at that moment as Boisa hit another triple and Ozbolt a fastbreak dunk for a 9-2 score. After a Barcelona timeout, however, things changed. Navarro sparked a reaction by Barcelona with a fastbreak after a steal. Olimpija went more than 3 minutes now withou a single basket, while Bodiroga took over for the guests with 6 straight points on moves in the paint that gave Barca its first lead, 11-12. A triple by Gregor Fucka capped the 2-13 run by Barca but Mance still had time to score for a 13-15 result after 10 minutes.
Boisa scored a basket-plus-free throw and Mance scored to tie 18-18 for Olimpija to start the second quarter. Rodrigo De la Fuente and Ozbolt kept the game balanced from the foul line, but it was clear even then that Olimpija's poor outside shooting - 1 of 10 from the arc so far - was holding it back. Bazdaric broke that spell for a 25-22 home lead, but Drejer drove inside to score and signal a tight scoreboard would remain. De la Fuente went coast to coast to push Barca in front, 29-32, but after a timeout, Olimpija responded with a 7-0 run capped by another Bazdaric triple for its own healthy lead, 36-32. The hosts rushed some shots then, however, so when Drejer replied with a perfect triple after good ball circulation, Barca took a 38-40 edge. Before the half could end, a foul was called against Bodiroga on a desperate triple by Manuchar Markoishvili, who hit the 3 free throws that allowed Olimpija to end the half leading 41-40.
Roberto Dueñas, Vlado Ilievski and Navarro split up all but one point of a 1-9 run to start the third quarter as Barca retook control at 42-49. But neither team could get away so far. Ozbolt maintained Olimpija with his speed as Bodiroga nailed big post-up baskets to give Barca the game biggest lead yet, 45-53. But despite having a poor percentage from the arc, Olimpija's few triples arrived at key moments, including one now from Bocevski that allowed Bazdaric to soon tie the game again, 53-53, with 2 free throws. Ozbolt got another three-point play to put Olimpija ahead at 56-53. Fucka kept Barca alive with free throws, but before the quarter could end, Bazdaric blasted another triple on the buzzer to leave Olimpija in front 61-57 after 30 minutes.
And in the fourth quarter, what had been a tight game suddenly turned into a blowout. Drejer returned to solve things for Barca as his first three-pointer of the quarter got back the lead for his team, 61-63. He added a quick basket in the next play and Dueñas nailed a layup that capped a 1-9 run for the guests. Bazdaric gave some oxygen to his team with another triple, 64-67, but Navarro teamed up then with Drejer, and his free throws sent Barcelona up 67-73. There were 4 minutes left when Drejer scored on a three-point play and then Navarro finished a layup for the first double-digit lead all game, 67-78. A monster assist by Navarro to Fucka neutralized the last Olimpija basket by Boisa, and Ilievski bid farewell to his former team with a last triple that sealed the win, 69-83.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Ziga Bojc, Ljubljana