Jasmin Repesa did it again. For the second time in a month, coaching two different teams, Repesa has come out on the winning end against otherwise undefeated Barcelona in Group A. If a month ago it was Cibona handing Barcelona its first loss, the second one came with Repesa's new team, Skipper, on Wednesday in Bologna by a convincing final score of 82-70. From the start, Skipper showed the confidence needed and the defensive movement required to combat the Barcelona gunslingers. The result gives Skipper and even record at 4-4, while Barcelona falls to 6-2 and loses its exclusive hold on first place, which it now shares with Benetton, a winner on the road at Pau-Orthez. Carlos Delfino led the charge for Skipper with 21 points and 11 rebounds. He was also instrumental in helping hold Barcelona ace Dejan Bodiroga to just 9. Giacomo Galanda added 18 points for the winners, Gianluca Basile 17 and Gianmarco Pozzecco 12. Pozzecco was credited with 9 assists, some of them spectacular, his total higher than the whole Barcelona team. Gregor Fucka, in his return to PalaDozza arena in Bologna, had 19 points for Barcelona, the same as Juan Carlos Navarro.
Perhaps lifted by the great welcome he received from the Bologna fans, Fucka scored Barcelona's first 5 points, but with Delfino starting almost as quickly, Skipper took first important lead of the game, 12-5 after 4 minutes. Skipper tried to push up the tempo of the game, anticipating on defense against Fucka and Bodiroga. Roberto Dueñas got the call from Barcelona coach Svetislav Pesic to try to mitigate Barcelona's defensive problems. Bodiroga and Rodrigo De La Fuente stopped the slide with 2 triples in a row, but Skipper moved the ball well, taking advantage of all the chances to run the break. A great dunk by Delfino, followed by a layup on Pozzecco's assist, put another 7 points, 18-11, between hosts and visitors. Pesic called Sarunas Jasikevicius and Navarro from the bench. Navarro started pressing Pozzecco, but Skipper had great intensity on both sides of the court and reached the maximum lead thusfar, 23-23, with Pozzecco's jumper. Jasikevicius stopped the bleeding with 4 points in a row to set the first quarter score at 23-17.
Barcelona tried to reduce the gap with a couple of free throws by Dueñas, but Skipper was back with 4-0 mini-run to surge ahead 27-19. Dueñas dunked now, but Galanda was on fire and with Lubos Barton's triple the Skipper advantage held at 30-21. Navarro drilled a triple for 30-24 but Basile responded fin kind. Skipper's captain suffered early foul troubles (3 after 14 minutes) and Barcelona tried to exploit the mismatch of Navarro against bigger Barton. Navarro sank 6 points in a row as the guests pulled up to 35-30. Skipper called a timeout, but Navarro stung once again with a three for a 35-33 scorebard after 17 minutes. Delfino came to Skipper's rescue with 4 key points that made it 39-33. Barcelona then tried to go to Bodiroga in the post, but Skipper was prepared and double-teamed, forcing him to the baseline. Skipper kept the lead at 43-36 thanks to Pozzecco, but Barton was hit with his fourth foul before intermission. Barcelona had the last shot, and with little more than one second to go, Fucka scored and was fouled by Galanda. The Skipper lead was down to 43-39 at the half.
Barcelona was back just one shot behind Skipper thanks to an assist and a dunk on the break by Patrick Femerling that made it 45-43 early in the third quarter. Skipper found its own points on the break, however, with Galanda and Pozzecco fueling a 7-0 run to 52-43. Fucka stopped the slide with a hook, but in the party atmosphere of Paladozza, Skipper exalted itself with an alley-oop from Pozzecco to Van Den Spiegel to keep the lead at 9 points, 54-45. Basile then added a triple, but Jasikevicius stopped the run with his own. Pozzecco led Skipper with his pick-and-roll plays, but Fucka sank another three to keep his team into the game at 63-53 after 27 minutes. Barcelona needed Navarro's free throws in the final seconds to stay within 68-58 at the end of 30 minutes.
In the fourth quarter, Barcelona tried Bodiroga playing as a power forward in a mismatch against the bigger Galanda. With his one-on-one abilities, Barcelona came back within 6 points, 71-65, with 6 minutes left. Skipper suffered a couple of heavy offensive mistakes, and Rodrigo De La Fuente sank a triple that definitely re-opened the game, 71-68 after 35 minutes. Van Den Spiegel wasted a couple of free throws and Barcelona had also the possession to tie the score, but Navarro missed the triple. Delfino resurfaced to score a great basket receiving on a slash, and after Fucka's mistake, Galanda sank a big three to complete an important 5-0 run that gave Skipper 8 points to defend, 76-68, with 3 minutes left. Fucka stopped the run, but Basile invented another three that tasted like the end, and was once Navarro missed another three, Galanda sank his own last one, just to make sure, but Skipper's fans were already celebrating.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002