Winterthur FCB took a huge step towards the Top 16 by beating Union Olimpija 79-69 in Group B at home in Barcelona, Spain on Thursday night. Barcelona improved to 5-4 in the standings and takes part in a four-way tie for second place with Montepaschi, Zalgiris and Scavolini. Olimpija dropped to 3-6 and will need a quick turnaround to keep its Top 16 hopes alive. Dejan Bodiroga tied his personal best for points in a Euroleague game with 29 to lead the winners. Juan Carlos Navarro added 13 points, Vlado Ilievski 10 while newcomer Devin Davis played a key role with 8 points and 8 rebounds off the bench despite landing in Barcelona just yesterday. Vladimer Boisa led Olimpija with 15 points, Dusan Bocevski had 14 on 6-for-9 shooting and Saso Ozbolt 13 for the guests.
Faced with a lack of big men, Barcelona started youngster Ramon Espuña in the frontcourt. Fucka opened the game with a reverse layup, which Roger Grimau followed with a driving layup for a 4-2 lead. Olimpija tried an inside-out offense, with Boisa and Dusan Bocevski playing beyond the three-point line often. A long jumper by Saso Ozbolt and Boisa's running layup tied it 6-6. Both teams struggled to score now, as Bodiroga drilled a five-meter jumper for a 10-7 Barcelona lead after 6 minutes. Bocevski scored around the basket, but Bodiroga answered back-to-back baskets to force an Olimpija timeout at 14-10. After that, Bodiroga made another shot and Navarro added a layup to preserve the advantage at 18-14 margin after 10 minutes.
Olimpija continued following its game plan early in the second, with both of its big men slashing to the basket, but the guests now struggled to score against Barcelona's more athletic lineup. Jordi Trias followed Navarro's basket with a tip-in for a 22-16 Barcelona lead. Olimpija went scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Dragisa Drobnjak stepped up with a layup. Bodiroga answered with a second-chance put-back and added a big three in a 6-0 Barcelona run that sent the hosts ahead 28-20. Olimpija looked for Bocevski in the middle, and he delivered 6 quick points, but Barcelona still dominated the boards and found easy options on offense. Rodrigo De La Fuente followed a four-meter jumper with a bomb from downtown to boost Barcelona's lead into double digits, at 37-26. Bocevski and Andres Rodriguez brought the guests within 39-30 at halftime.
Bodiroga opened the second half with a three-point play, and Fucka followed it with a layup as Barcelona soared ahead 44-30. Boisa tried to wake Olimpija up with a corner three and a short jumper that made it 46-35. Indeed, Olimpija improved its defense, holding Barcelona scoreless for 3 minutes while Bazdaric shined with 5 points in a 0-7 run that brought the guests within 48-42 after 26 minutes. Barcelona called timeout and quickly got back on track with a three-pointer by Navarro. Bodiroga followed it with a three-pointer and a fastbreak layup, newcomer Devin Davis added a reverse layup and Vlado Ilievski made a catch-and-shoot three to give Barcelona its biggest lead, 63-46, after 30 minutes.
Olimpija needed a quick comeback to keep its chances in the game, but it just didn't happen. Davis and Fucka scored around the basket, and Navarro added a layup in penetration to extend Barcelona's margin to 69-50. Olimpija tried to be more aggressive at both ends as Ozbolt capped a 0-6 run to within 69-56. But Bodiroga was waiting with back-to-back jumpers that made it 73-56 with 4 minutes remaining. Ozbolt went on fire with 9 quick points in a 2-11 run which made it an eight-point game at 75-67, but Barcelona had already sealed the win long before the final buzzer.
Thursday, January 6, 2005
J.A. Casanova, Barcelona