FC Barcelona Regal pasted Asseco Prokom 88-61
FC Barcelona Regal cruised to an 88-61 victory over Asseco Prokom on Thursday night in its home opener at Palau Blaugrana. Erazem Lorbek scored 20 points, Juan Carlos Navarro had 14 and Marcelinho Huertas 11 – with the latter two dishing 5 assists each – to lead the Spanish champs. Prokom played tough early and led 30-33 midway through the second quarter, but the hosts roared back behind Navarro to lead 47-36 at the break and were never in trouble again. Barcelona was greatly aided by its strong team defense, which forced 17 turnovers, and by the presence of Kosta Perovic inside, who turned it 4 blocked shots. Chuck Eidson and Pete Mickeal added 10 points apiece for Barca. Oliver Lafayette paced the Prokom attack with 15 points off the bench and Alonzo Gee added 10 as the Polish champs slipped to 0-2.
Lorbek capped a great ball circulation play by Barcelona with a hook shot to open fire, but Adam Lapeta responded quickly to tie the game. Kosta Perovic followed him inside the paint before Navarro knocked down his first three of the night to give the hosts a 7-2 lead in the early going. Prokom didn’t panic, as Blassingame took over and nailed a pair of free throws and assisted Gee for a spectacular fastbreak alley-oop that brought the guests within 7-6. The pace of the game was quite fast at that point; Eidson went for a three, then Donatas Motejiunas cut the deficit with his first bucket, before another inside basket of Lorbek and a pair of free throws by Perovic returned a safe margin to the hosts, 14-8 after only four minutes. Despite Prokom head coach Pacesas deciding to start using his bench to keep the intensity, Barcelona had already found its momentum. Lorbek hit the rim again to raise the differences to 8 points midway through the first quarter. Both teams remained scoreless for the following two minutes until Blassingame, back on court after a few minutes of rest, broke the trend with a free throw. Barcelona seemed to be ready to break the game thanks to Lorbek and Joseph Ingles, who set a 20-9 lead entering the last minutes of the quarter. Blassingame awoke his team with a nice assist to Lapeta that sparked a 0-7 push that brought Prokom back into the game. Two free throws by Blassingame followed by a great assist by Lafayette to Lapeta reduced the gap to 20-15 with a minute to play. Fran Vazquez came to the rescue for the hosts, but Lafayette remained hot and nailed a huge three to fix the score at 23-18 at the end of the first quarter.
Perovic scored with a hook shot to extend the lead to 7 points after the break, but Motejiunas responded with a great dunk in penetration to prevent the hosts from escaping. Lukasz Seweryn showed up with a huge catch-and-shoot three-pointer, reducing the deficit to just 2 right before Navarro came back to the court. A monster off-the-steal one-handed dunk by Gee definitely erased the advantage of Barcelona, forcing an urgent timeout from head coach Pascual. Lorbek and Eidson joined the action for Barcelona, but it was Navarro who found the rim, drawing a foul and hitting twice from the free throw line to re-activate his team. Gee accepted the challenge, however, and scored in penetration to tie the game again. Pacesas was trying to break the scoring rhythm of Barcelona by switching defenses all the time, and it seemed to work fine at that moment. Lafayette and Przemyslaw Zamojski nailed back-to-back threes that gave Prokom its first serious lead of the night, 30-33, midway through the second quarter. Huertas came to the rescue by responding from the same distance to tie the game again and assisting Navarro for a fastbreak basket that returned the lead to the hosts, 35-33. Navarro stayed hot after the timeout, while Perovic added another free throw, good for a 5-point lead entering in the last three minutes of the half. Blassingame kept running the show for the guests and fed Lapeta inside, but it wasn’t enough against Navarro. The Eurobasket MVP cooled the game with a corner three, that was followed by an amazing no-look assist by Huertas to Lorbek to extend the margin to 43-34. Even though Pacesas tried to break the trend with a timeout, Barcelona’s defense was much better at that point and fueling the offensive effort of the hosts. Huertas scored twice from the line to set a 11-point margin, as no one in Prokom was able to find the rim. Perovic extended the margin to 13 points, while Lapeta ended the drought for the Polish champs with a put-back layup that saved Prokom from a heavier punishment at halftime.
Lorbek repeated at the beginning of the first half, scoring inside to return the 13-point lead to Barcelona. Navarro followed him with another bucket, which seemed to be the beginning of the end for the visitors. Prokom didn’t gave up, however, as Gee and Zamojski combined for a 0-4 run that gave some fresh air to the guests and fixed the score at 51-40. Barcelona reacted quickly behind a nice layup by Eidson and an open three by Lorbek, who was perfect from the field so far. Motejiunas capped a great turnaround move with a nice one-handed shot to keep the flame burning for the guests, even though Barcelona looked stronger than ever before in the game. Eidson and Lafayette traded baskets to keep the margin steady at 14 points with just two minutes to go in the third quarter. Prokom struggled against the intensity of Barcelona’s defense, so the hosts didn’t need to excel on offense to maintain a safe margin. Mickeal scored twice from the line capping a great defensive play, good for a 16-point edge, and even though Lafayette reached double figures with a layup right after that, more free throws by Boni Ndong and Mickeal allowed Barcelona to amass a 18-point lead, 64-46, at the end of the third period.
Prokom seemed about to break, despite they showed a great attitude, but Barcelona had too much firepower to allow the guests think seriously in a potential comeback. Ndong confirmed his great start of the season with consecutive baskets, while Zamojski, with a three, and Gee, with a nice baseline dunk, became the offensive answer for Asseco. As such, differences remained the same, 68-51, in the first minutes of the last period. With the outcome in no doubt, the game turned into a bucket trading contest that benefitted Barcelona. Lorbek hit another field goal, good for a 72-53 hosts lead with less than 7 minutes to go, followed by two free throws by Mickeal granted by an unsportsmanlike foul by Gee. Lorbek knocked down from downtown right after that, setting a game-high 29-point advantage for the Spaniards, 81-53, midway through the last quarter. Lafayette showed some pride for his team, scoring 5 points in a row as a last attempt to avoid a painful blowout, but he found no help from his mates in the offensive end. Ndong converted three free throws in a row, while Huertas scored an acrobatic layup to return differences close to the 30-point limit. Having everything under control, coach Pascual was even able to give some Euroleague action to Josep Perez, a 17-years old coming from the farm teams of the club. Perez couldn’t score, but was able to run Barcelona’s offense for almost two minutes and celebrate the second Euroleague win of his team.
Thursday, October 27, 2011