Giving a lesson in defensive basketball, FC Barcelona remained unbeaten in Group B as it rolled up Scavolini 62-80 on the road in Pesaro, Italy on Wednesday. After a weak first quarter, Barcelona regrouped and showed great chemistry the rest of the way to win its second consecutive road game and become the first team to stop Scavolini. Barcelona now has a 3-0 record and will at least share first place in Group B. Scavolini fell to 2-1. The man of the game for the winners was Juan Carlos Navarro, who broke open a close game while scoring 9 of his team-high 18 points in the third quarter. Gregor Fucka added 16 points for Barcelona, while Dejan Bodiroga was right behind with 14 with 7 rebounds. Barca got great help too from bench players like Jordi Trias, who had 7 points and 7 rebounds. Scavolini was led by Charles Smith, with 21 points, and Hanno Mottola, who scored 16 of his 20 total points in the first half. The rest of the home team together managed just 21 points, including 10 from Marko Milic.
Despite 3 missed three-pointers in a row by Charles Smith, Scavolini started with fire in its eyes. Taking advantage from offensive boards, the hosts built up a 7-0 lead in 3 minutes by resisting Barcelona center Roberto Dueñas inside. After the timeout, Barca coach Joan Montes found an answer in Gregor Fucka, who scored his team's first 6 points. In the meantime, however, Mottola was nailing jumpers, so Scavolini stayed ahead, 12-8 through 6 minutes. Then the hosts tried to escape for real when Smith turned the light on. He drive, stole a ball and assisted Mottola on a fastbreak to push Scavolini up 16-10. The youngsters on Barca, Vlado Ilievski, Jordi Trias and Victor Sada, cut the gap to 19-16, but Smith opened fire again. His open triple and dunk on the break after a steal gave Scavolini its biggest lead yet, 24-16 after 10 minutes.
Barcelona started the second quarter with intensity and concentration, resulting in a 0-7 run inspired by Trias and Sada, who buried a triple. The guests completed their comeback by tying 24-24 in minute 13 on a free throw by Trias. Mottola broke the tie from beyond the arc, 27-24, but an offensive board by Christian Drejer help Barca find its first lead of the game, 27-28. Barca continued to have problems on defense against Mottola, who got loose on pick-and-rolls to sink easy jumpers. Mottola then hooked over Fucka and Smith buried 2 foul shots to push Scavolini in fornt again, 33-28. Then Bodiroga awoke. His first jumper cut the difference to 33-30, then after two layups by Marko Milic, he drove his teammates to finish the half strong. Navarro tied with a triple, 37-37, then Fucka got an easy drive inside the key and Bodiroga scored a reverse layup with 1 second to play. At the half, everything had changed, with Barcelona in charge at 37-41.
Barcelona continued its turnaround in the third quarter as Navarro caught fire, scoring 5 points in a row to give his team a six-point lead, 42-48, after 22 minutes. Scavolini center James Forrest answered with a five-meter jumper, but Ilievski sank the triple to give Barcelona its maximum lead thusfar, 44-51. Navarro struck again, with his typical rainbow shot, to force a Scavolini timeout at 46-54. That didn't cool Navarro, who hit a jumper to reach 9 points for the quarter. Mottola nailed a triple, but Ilievski answered with the same coin while Rodrigo de la Fuente scored from inside giving the guests a 50-61 lead. A free throw by Trias set up the 50-62 score after 30 minutes.
Barcelona pushed again to start the final quarter. Scavolini was stuck on 50 points while Bodiroga assisted Trias under the rim. With a 16-point lead, and Scavolini still struggling to attack Barca's determined man-to-man defense, everything went the visitors' way. A fastbreak finished by Smith broke a seven-minute scoring drought by Scavolini, but Barca did not panic even when Teemu Rannikko hit a triple, recalling Scavolini's incredible comeback at Adecco Asvel a week before. With a 15-point edge, 55-70, with 4 minutes to play, Barca's defense actually had the matter in hand. It allowed only 7 points to Scavolini in the final quarter, and that was way to few for the home fans to keep dreaming of an upset victory.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Marco Martelli, Pesaro