Tau Ceramica sent a message that echoed all around the continent by downing Regal FCB 75-84 in Game 1 of the Quarterfinal Playoffs in Barcelona on Tuesday. Tau took a 0-1 lead in the best-of-five playoff series, stealing the home-court advantage. Barcelona hosts Game 2 at Palau Blaugrana on Thursday. Pablo Prigioni turned in a brilliant performance with a Euroleague career-high 17 points and season-high 8 assists to pace Tau, while league-leading scorer Igor Rakocevic added 15 for the winners. Prigioni buried 3 triples in the first quarter for a 11-24 Tau lead. A 7-0 run that Gianluca Basile capped with a three brought Barcelona within 18-24 after 10 minutes. Rakocevic, Vlado Ilievski and Mirza Teletovic joined the three-point shootout for a 18-33 Tau margin early in the second quarter. Juan Carlos Navarro single-handedly brought Barcelona within 32-40 only for Teletovic and Splitter to restore a 34-45 Tau margin at halftime. Will McDonald, Tiago Splitter and Pete Mickeal helped Tau to get its biggest lead, 40-57. Roger Grimau and Ersan Ilyasova fueled an 11-0 run that kept Barcelona in the game, 53-59. However three-pointers by Fernando San Emeterio, Sergi Vidal, Ilievski and Rakocevic kept Tau ahead, 70-77, with four minutes remaining and a wild triple by Prigioni and a layup by McDonald sealed the outcome down the stretch. Will McDonald added 12 points and Mickeal had 8 rebounds for the winners. Navarro ked Barca with 17 points, Ilyasova posted 14 points and 13 rebounds and Grimau and Fran Vazquez netted 12 each.
Rakocevic got Tau going with a wild three-point play. Barcelona tried to run its offense through Navarro in the opening minutes. Daniel Santiago scored down low, but a jump hook by Splitter gave Tau a 2-5 lead. Prigioni fed McDonald for an easy basket in transition, while at the other end Barcelona kept missing open shots. Victor Sada stepped up with free throws and Santiago added a fallaway jumper to get the hosts within 6-7. McDonald paced Tau with a layup and a fast break dunk off a steal, good for a 6-11 margin. Prigioni struck from downtown and followed Andersen's six-meter jumper with another triple that caused Barcelona to call timeout at 8-17. Splitter took over with another jump hook, but a seven-meter bomb by Basile got the crowd involved at 11-19. Prigioni, however, buried his third three-pointer and fed Vidal for a layup in transition to boost the guests' lead to 11-24. Vazquez dunked it over Splitter and soon added free throws in a 7-0 run that Basile capped with a triple from the corner for an 18-24 Barcelona deficit after 10 minutes.
Tau slowed down its offense with Ilievski on the floor for the start of the second period. Rakocevic finished a two-chance Tau offense with a bomb from downtown and Ilievski soon joined the three-point shootout for a 18-30 lead. Teletovic provided a highlight with a step-back corner triple that made it a 15-point game. Vazquez and Rakocevic traded baskets and Grimau tried to change things with a driving layup. Free throws by Rakocevic boosted the guests' margin to 22-38. Barcelona found a go-to guy in Navarro, who hit back-to-back 'bombas' and added a reverse layup for a 28-38 score. Vidal and Navarro exchanged foul shots as Tau struggled to score inside with Vazquez and Ilyasova together on court. More free throws by Navarro brought Barcelona within single digits, 32-40. Ilyasova downed a fade-away jumper, but free throws by Mickeal and Teletovic kept Tau up 34-43. Prigioni and Splitter silenced the crowd with a high-post pick-and-roll move that fixed the halftime score at 34-45.
Navarro scored in penetration immediately after the break, but McDonald quickly answered with a put-back layup and soon added a dunk for a 36-49 Tau margin. Barcelona played with more intensity, but lacked ball circulation. A power layup by Mickeal made coach Xavi Pascual call timeout at 36-51. Ilyasova and Prigioni traded baskets as Barcelona locked up the defensive glass with Ilyasova back on court. Vazquez shined with an acrobatic put-back layup, but back-to-back dunks by Splitter and Mickeal broke the game open, 40-57. Grimau tried to ignite the hosts' comeback with free throws, but Rakocevic sank a big jumper off the dribble. Jaka Lakovic shined with a driving layup and Grimau added more foul shots to bring the hosts back to life. Ilyasova sank a triple and capped an 11-0 run with a layup to make it 53-59. San Emeterio and Ilievski responded with three-pointers and a layup by Teletovic restored a 55-67 Tau lead. Navarro hit a triple from the top of the key to bring Barca within 58-67 after 30 minutes.
Tau tried to play with long possessions, trying to get Splitter involved early in the fourth quarter. The game was scoreless for almost two minutes until Vidal fired in one from downtown, good for a 58-70 Tau margin. Lakovic provided a highlight with an incredible driving layup as Tau now tried a small lineup with Mickeal at power forward. Free throws by Navarro gave Regal FCB some hope, 52-60, with under seven minutes remaining. Rakocevic fed Vidal for a layup that Ilyasova matched with an acrobatic basket. Rakocevic buried a critical corner triple and even when Ilyasova scored again, free throws by Mickeal gave Tau a 66-77 lead. A Vazquez dunk and a layup by Grimau caused Tau to call timeout up 70-77 with 3:34 to go. The guests kept struggling to score while a coast-to-coast layup by Grimau made it a five-point game. Prigioni nailed an eight-meter bomb to put the victory on ice, 72-80, with two minutes remaining. A layup by McDonald sealed the outcome, allowing Tau to steal the home-court advantage and strike first in this best-of-five series.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009