Barcelona of Spain won the battle but lost the war on Thursday as its solid 90-76 win over visiting Scavolini was good enough only to tie for first place in Group E with Benetton Treviso, who advanced to the Final Four on a tie-break. Barcelona did what it had to on Thursday, taking control after a nervous start and thriving on three-pointers right through to the finish. Though it finished tied with Benetton at 4-2 in the standings, Barcelona fell short in the tie-break department for having lost by 14 at Treviso last week. In an earlier victory against Benetton, Barcelona had only prevailed by a single point, so the difference of 13 put Benetton through. The man who got Barcelona back into the Final Four race, Sarunas Jasikevicius, was also key in subduing Scavolini on Thursday with early three-pointers. He finished with 16 points, as did Roberto Dueñas, to lead five Barcelona players in double figures. Efthimios Rentzias added 12, Nacho Rodriguez and Arturas Karnisovas 11 each. For Scavolini, which finished 2-4, Joe Blair had 19 points, Melvin Booker 13 and Marko Tusek 12.
Scavolini got off to the quicker start taking early leads at 0-5 and extending it to 4-11. The guests took full advantage of Barcelona's nervousness that contributed to the hosts converting just one of their first six attempts from the field. An offensive rebound followed by a hook from Dueñas gave Barcelona the lead for the first time in the game at 16-15, seven and a half minutes into the quarter. Dueñas appeared on the floor after six minutes and no one on Scavolini's team could match him near the basket. The other key man was Lithuanian guard Sarunas Jasikevicius, with 3 three-pointers in the first quarter. Barcelona had already jumped out to a 26-19 lead after the first 10 minutes.
With Jasikevicius on the bench, Dueñas kept his team's hopes alive before being substituted by Rentzias three minutes later. But before he left, he had already posted 10 points on 4 of 5 from the field, and grabbed 5 rebounds. Another problem for Scavolini was American center Joseph Blair picking up his third foul with still 9 minutes to play before the half. The home team improved its defense, forced many turnovers, and controlled the boards to run out to a 16-point lead at 48-32 at halftime on a suprising three-pointer from Brazilian center Varejao. Jasikevicius with 13 points was the leading scorer for Barcelona while Tusek and Blair each had 8 for Scavolini.
The first points from Beric in the game helped Scavolini cut the lead to 10 points 48-38, but Rentzias replied with a 24-second clock beating three-pointer followed by Jasikevicius adding his fourth and then Karnisovas his first for a 57-42 Barcelona lead in the 24th minute. Only Beric and Blair were able to score for the Italians as Booker was taken out of his game due to the good team defense by the hosts. But a three-pointer from the American playmaker started a run that cut Barcelona's lead to just three points, 59-56. Dueñas and Navarro came back on the floor, but Pecile converted 1 of 2 free throws and it was 59-57. At the end of the quarter, Scavolini had made a game of it and trailed just 65-60.
The fourth quarter saw the game turn into a series of mistakes for both teams with the score staying sclose at 69-66, until a steal, followed by an easy layup from Nacho Rodríguez broke it open. Two hooks from Dueñas and a three from Digbeu put the score at 78-70 with 2:41 remaining. Beric missed a jumper and the game was sealed when Nacho Rodríguez hit another three for 81-70 two minutes before the end.
Thursday, April 18, 2002