Putting an end to its two-game losing streak in Group B, FC Barcelona took care of business on its home floor with a solid 73-59 victory over visiting Adecco Asvel on Thursday. The win helped Barcelona take advantage of other Group B results to move alone into second place with a 4-2 record. Asvel dropped all the way to last place at 1-5. Dejan Bodiroga paced with winners with 22 points and doubled up with 10 rebuonds. He was followed by Juan Carlos Navarro with 15 points, Roger Grimau and Gregor Fucka with 10 each. Barcelona didn't even need to shoot well, because each team managed to hit only 2 three-point shots. Huseyin Besok was the big gun for Asvel with 19 points, but only Stephane Pelle joined him in double figures with 13.
Marc Gasol, injured until now, came out as the starting center for Barcelona, instead of Roberto Dueñas. Asvel defended in a 2-3 zone and went ahead 1-4. Barcelona took its first lead at 8-7 with a three-pointer by Bodiroga, which sparked a 7-0 run to a 12-7 advantage. By the time Gasol committed his second foul and was replaced by Dueñas, Asvel was within 14-12 thanks to Besok. Seconds later, Harold Mrazek his team's first triple to grab a 14-15 lead for Asvel. The guests held on to lead 16-17 at the end of the quarter as Besok already had 8 points and 4 rebounds.
Playing far from the basket to draw out Dueñas, Besok remained a big problem for Barcelona in the second quarter. He had 4 more points by the 12th minute to put Asvel ahead 18-25. When Besok took a seat then to rest, Barcelona took advantage. Bodiroga was the key, with the first basket of his team in the second quarter and many rebounds. Both teams had problems scoring now, but especially Asvel as Bodiroga and Fucka marched Barcelona on a 9-1 run to a new lead, 27-26. A three-point play and an assist from Jordi Trias to Fucka completed the turnaround with Barcelona enjoying its biggest lead, 34-28 at halftime, when Bodiroga and Besok were at 12 points each.
Trias scored the first basket of the second half, extending Barcelona's lead to 36-28, but Asvel reacted inmediately with another three-pointer from Mrazek and a basket from Pelle to pull within 36-35. Playing without a true center, with Fucka on Besok, Barcelona took a four-point lead, 44-40. when Navarro, who didn't play in the second quarter, comes back. Asvel doesn't surrender, however, and Pelle's putback of an offensive rebound sends the visitors ahead again, 44-45 in the 28th minute. That's when Barcelona's aces, Bodiroga and Navarro, stepped up for 6 points in an 8-0 run to finish the quarter with their team in charge again, 52-45 after 30 minutes.
De la Fuente extended the run to 10-0, giving Barcelona its biggest lead yet, 54-45, to start the final quarter. Asvel had something left, however, and put in 8 of the game's next 12 points to pull within 58-53. The toll of Barcelona's deep bench started to have its effect. Bodiroga came back fresh and the hosts' defense on Besok started working better with more inside players to rotate, even without Dueñas, who remained on the bench. The result was a 62-53 Barcelona edge 4 minutes before the end. Asvel looked tired now and Barcelona took advantage to seal the win with big baskets from Grimau and Bodiroga that made it 66-53, a difference that the hosts would add a point to in finishing up their fourth Group B victory.
Thursday, December 9, 2004
J.A. Casanova, Barcelona