Playoffs Round 1 - March 24, 2009 CET: 20:45 Local time: 20:45 - PALAU BLAUGRANA
PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
GROUP Quarterfinal 1
GROUP Quarterfinal 4

Records

Ave.   Ave.
0-0 Final Four 0-0
0-0 Playoffs 0-0
5-1 Top 16 4-2
9-1 Regular Season 8-2
14-2 Overall 12-4

Referees

Crew Chief
PITSILKAS, NIKOLAOS, Greece
Referee
CHRISTODOULOU, CHRISTOS, Greece
Umpire
LATISEVS, OLEGS, Latvia

Team Stats

Ave.   Ave.
82.6 Points 92.0
34.4 Rebounds 33.5
9.4 O. Rebounds 8.9
24.9 D. Rebounds 24.6
16.4 Assists 14.9
7.9 Steals 7.2
4.9 Blocks 3.5
12.6 Turnovers 12.6
56.0 % 2PT 59.0 %
40.2 % 3PT 42.0 %
79.3 % FT 76.5 %
99.7 Index 105.8

Player Stats

Ave.   Ave.
14.7 / Navarro Points 18.4 / Rakocevic
6.9 / ILYASOVA, ERSAN Rebounds 4.6 / MCDONALD, WILL
1.8 / Vazquez OR 1.8 / MCDONALD, WILL
5.1 / ILYASOVA, ERSAN DR 4.1 / Mickeal
3.7 / Navarro Assists 4.3 / PRIGIONI, PABLO
1.4 / Navarro Steals 1.6 / PRIGIONI, PABLO
2.0 / Vazquez Blocks 1.7 / SPLITTER, TIAGO
2.2 / Navarro Turnovers 2.1 / Rakocevic
85.7 % / Barton 2PT 75.9 % / TELETOVIC, MIRZA
55.9 % / Basile 3PT 58.3 % / Vidal
91.4 % / Navarro FT 90.0 % / Rakocevic
15.7 / Navarro Index 18.0 / Rakocevic

THE TAKE

Spain's most successful teams this decade will enjoy a titanic, first-ever clash for Euroleague survival when Regal FC Barcelona and Tau Ceramica kick off their best-of-five Quarterfinal Playoffs series on Tuesday. Since the turn of the century, Barcelona has collected three Spanish League titles, two national cups, two Final Four appearances and, of course, the Euroleague crown in 2003. Tau has been just as prodigious, with Spanish League titles, four national cups and four trips to the Final Four. Their rivalry reached its domestic peak at last season's Spanish League finals, which Tau swept 3-0. In the Euroleague, however, these teams have met just once, in the third-place game at the 2006 Final Four, which Tau also won. The opening game is in tips off in Barcelona, but since this series has the shortest distance between quarterfinal rivals - in both distance and familiarity - it remains to be seen how much homecourt advantage will mean. Tau arrives with a reputation under head coach Dusko Ivanovic for having pulled off some of the decade's major playoff road wins. Indeed, Tau owns the only two playoff series victories by teams that didn't have homecourt advantage. Barcelona owns the top overall Euroleague record this season, 14-2, but is followed by Tau at 13-3. The are also the top two scoring teams left in the competition, although Tau's 92 points per game are 10 higher. Barcelona owns the Euroleague's best defense, however, and has allowed 12.8 fewer points per game than Tau. And then there are the matchups, including a superstar battle at shooting guard, Euroleague leading scorer Igor Rakocevic of Tau going against emblematic Barcelona ace Juan Carlos Navarro. Also on the perimeter, watch Gianluca Basile, Lubos Barton and Roger Grimau of Barcelona going against Pete Mickeal and Sergi Vidal of Tau. In the paint, Barcelona's fearsome foursome of David Andersen, Ersan Ilyasova, Fran Vazquez and Daniel Santiago will match wits and braun with Tiago Splitter, Mirza Teletovic and Will McDonald of Tau. With two teams that rank in the Euroleague's top four in both two-point and three-point shooting percentage, which can stop the other in the paint and on the perimeter will go a long way toward deciding the any game in the series. There remains a question of what shape these teams will be in on Tuesday after Tau won its Spanish League weekend game in blowout fashion on Saturday, while Barcelona lost after four overtimes on Sunday. There is also the question of how Ivanovic goes against the team he coached the last two seasons and how Barcelona's head coach, Xavi Pascual, strategizes against his former boss. All the ingredients are there for an amazing series, which should be evident in the very first game.

GAME NOTES

Regal FC Barcelona
  • Barca has won 12 consecutive home games dating back to the end of the regular season last year.
  • Guard Juan Carlos Navarro has made at least 1 three-pointer in 10 straight games. He is shooting 42.9% from downtown over that stretch.
  • Navarro is 9 points away from matching Luis Scola for fourth place on the Euroleague Basketball career scoring charts. Navarro enters Game 1 of the Quarterfinal Playoffs with 2,045 career points.
  • Barcelona boasts four players in the top 10 on the Euroleague Basketball career scoring charts. Juan Carlos Navarro is ranked fifth, Jaka Lakovic sixth, Gianluca Basile seventh and David Andersen eighth.
  • Guard Jaka Lakovic is 1 steal away from tying Luis Scola for 10th place on the Euroleague Basketball career steals charts. Lakovic enters Tuesday’s playoffs game with 173 career steals.
  • Big man Fran Vazquez is 1 blocked shot away from tying Gregor Fucka for fifth place on the Euroleague Basketball career charts in blocks. He enters Game 1 of the playoffs with 105 career blocked shots.
Tau Ceramica
  • Guard Igor Rakocevic streak of 20 consecutive Euroleague games with a three-pointer came to an end in the Top 16 finale against Olympiacos.
  • Rakocevic is 2 three-pointers away from reaching Maccabi Electra’s Derrick Sharp for 10th place on the Euroleague Basketball career list. He enters Game 1 of the playoffs with 214 career threes.
  • Forward Mirza Teletovic has drilled 4 three-pointers in seven different games this season and made 3 four other times. He leads the competition with 45 triples this season.
  • All Euroleague center Tiago Splitter enters Game 1 of the playoffs tied for 10th place on the Euroleague Basketball career shots blocked list with Eurelijus Zukauskas. Both players have 78 career blocks.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Euroleague.net

Quotes Head Coaches

PASCUAL, XAVIER
Regal FC Barcelona
"My team is a good moment to face the Euroleague Quarterfinal Playoffs. We feel good, are strong and enter the series with a good mentality. My team had a terrible physical test this weekend - a four-overtime game in the Spanish League - and the best news is that we have no injuries even when we lacked strength in the final minutes of that game. Physically speaking, we must recover as early as possible."
IVANOVIC, DUSKO
Tau Ceramica
"We are going to meet a team that is quite talented, with huge experience and that always sets a high basketball level in its games. They usually make easy points that allow them to get easy wins. We have to win one game at least on the road, that's clear, but now we only focus on the playoff opener. I think they are more dangerous now than when we played them in February, as they added Jaka Lakovic to the rotation. Lakovic is a player that can make the difference, but they also count on players that have increased their level in the last weeks. We will need to play better than them both in defense and offense. I don't think our previous wins against them can help us. Past wins never brought new ones and will never do."

Players

NAVARRO, JUAN CARLOS
Regal FC Barcelona
"Our game on Tuesday comes, as everyone knows, during a very difficult week for us, after the four-overtime game we played on Sunday. But in games like this one against Tau, all tiredness is left to one side. We are excited to play Tau. We know what our history is with them, and we're inspired by the possibility to make it to Berlin. I think we can do it. Our job now is to take advantage of our home court, Palau Blaugrana. I expect the atmosphere to be great. This is one of the big occastions. The truth is that these types of games are stimulating by themselves. Any player loves to be in these kinds of games. As they say, motivation won't be needed. We are committed and we want to arrive any way we can to the Final Four in Berlin."
SPLITTER, TIAGO
Tau Ceramica
"I think that a five-game series would increase the chances of the team that is better. There is not so much place for surprises as in a three-game playoff. Tau and Barcelona are very balanced teams, anyone can win. You cannot spend too much time thinking in these kinds of games, because everything goes so fast. When you want to analyze what’s going on, it’s already over. You need to play very focused and concentrated because of that. Our target is a win on Tuesday, we don’t think of gettign one out of two there in Barcelona or winning two. There is one only game right now; Tuesday’s. Their frontcourt is pretty powerful, they are all quality players, very dangerous with the ball in their hands, so it will be a very difficult task for us. They will be probably hungry against us, as they've been unable to beat Tau so far, so I expect that they will do their best before their fans to change this trend. I don’t think we have a psychological advantage over them because of the 3-0 balance in Spanish competition this season."
Pablo Prigioni - Tau CeramicaTau 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.

Ersan Ilyasova - Regal FC BarcelonaRakocevic 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.

Igor Rakocevic - Tau CeramicaNavarro 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
Javier Gancedo, Barcelona
Referees: PITSILKAS, NIKOLAOS (GRE), CHRISTODOULOU, CHRISTOS (GRE), LATISEVS, OLEGS (LAT)
Attendance: 7134
By Quarter1234
Regal FC Barcelona18162417
Tau Ceramica24212217
End of Quarter1234
Regal FC Barcelona18345875
Tau Ceramica24456784
Head coach: PASCUAL, XAVIER
Regal FC Barcelona
# Player Min Pts 2FG
M-A
3FG
M-A
FT
M-A
Rebounds As St To Bl Fouls PIR
O D T Fv Ag Cm Rv
5 BASILE, GIANLUCA 17:33 6 0/3 2/2     1 1           1   3
6 BARRETT, ANDRE DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8 TRIAS, JORDI DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9 BARTON, LUBOS 8:25     0/1           1       1   -1
10 LAKOVIC, JAKA 18:16 6 2/5 0/4 2/2   1 1 2   1     1 2 2
11 NAVARRO, JUAN CARLOS 35:17 17 4/8 1/6 6/6   2 2 2 1         3 16
13 ANDERSEN, DAVID 12:49 2 1/4 0/1           1         1  
17 VAZQUEZ, FRAN 23:36 12 5/6   2/2 3 4 7     1 2   4 1 16
21 ILYASOVA, ERSAN 29:19 14 5/7 1/4 1/2 2 11 13 1   1       1 22
24 SADA, VICTOR 21:44 2 0/1 0/3 2/2 1 1 2     3   1 2 2 -4
25 SANTIAGO, DANIEL 14:16 4 2/2     1 1 2   1   1   1 2 9
44 GRIMAU, ROGER 18:45 12 3/4 0/1 6/6 1   1 2 2 1   1 5 8 16
Team             2 2     1         1
Totals 200:00 75 22/40 4/22 19/20 8 23 31 7 6 8 3 2 15 20 80
55% 18.2% 95%
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Head coach: IVANOVIC, DUSKO
Tau Ceramica
# Player Min Pts 2FG
M-A
3FG
M-A
FT
M-A
Rebounds As St To Bl Fouls PIR
O D T Fv Ag Cm Rv
5 PRIGIONI, PABLO 27:27 14 1/2 4/6     5 5 8 1       3   22
6 ILIEVSKI, VLADO 12:33 6   2/3   1   1 2   1     1 1 7
8 RAKOCEVIC, IGOR 27:27 18 3/8 2/6 6/6 1 2 3 2   3   1 2 6 14
9 VIDAL, SERGI 24:15 9 2/2 1/3 2/2   2 2 2         3 3 11
11 ESLAVA, ARIEL DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
12 TELETOVIC, MIRZA 23:43 7 1/3 1/4 2/2   1 1 1         3 1 2
19 SAN EMETERIO, FERNANDO 6:59 3   1/1     2 2               5
21 SPLITTER, TIAGO 24:24 8 4/10     1 4 5 2   3 1 1 3 1 4
33 MICKEAL, PETE 26:55 7 2/7 0/1 3/4 2 6 8   2 1   1 3 3 8
42 BARAC, STANKO DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
45 MCDONALD, WILL 26:17 12 6/7     2 1 3   1 1 1   2   13
Team           3   3   1           4
Totals 200:00 84 19/39 11/24 13/14 10 23 33 17 5 9 2 3 20 15 90
48.7% 45.8% 92.9%
This game is not yet played

Head Coaches

PASCUAL, XAVIER
Regal FC Barcelona
"I believe that the beginning of the game conditioned it. We started the game with a turnover that led to a fast break layup. We missed an easy driving basket and generally played below our level, especially in the beginning of the game. Tau felt comfortable and used good shot selection, while we were trailing and not being able to handle the game, emotionally speaking. We managed to get back in the game, but they hit the right three-pointers at the right time. We had some defensive mistakes that we never have, only against Tau Ceramica. Prigioni hit 3 open triples in the first quarter, which never happened before. Tau punishes you when you make mistakes. I think that Prigioni was the best player on court, a first-class point guard that shows it every day."
IVANOVIC, DUSKO
Tau Ceramica
"Good evening. It is going to be a tough series, a very tough one. We won Game 1 but both teams have enough talent and ambition. I am sure that all the remaining games, no matter how many there are, will be close ones and decided by small details. There was a moment in this game that Barcelona played very good defense and managed to get within 5 points, but we managed to score 2 very important three-pointers, take a safe lead and managed to win the game. Again, this is just one game and I expect a tough series. We played good defense despite our mistakes, but had a good defensive game in general terms. Pablo Prigioni is our leader on court. He knows what to do and had a good shooting percentage tonight. He handled the game rhythm."

Players

VAZQUEZ, FRAN
Regal FC Barcelona
"You never feel good after losing such an important game. We know this is a long series, so we now have to focus on the next game. Tau started the game really well, with Prigioni hitting 3 triples in the opening quarter. We made the most out of our turnovers and tried to return to the game after that. We did all we could, but another three-pointer by Prigioni sealed the win in the final minutes. We must learn from our mistakes and work the way we did all season long. We missed a lot of shots that we make in normal conditions. We all want to make it to the Final Four and will give our best for that. We all expect a long series. We'll try to win on Thursday and take it from there."
ILIEVSKI, VLADO
Tau Ceramica
"Our defense was the key to this game. Prigiono has a great night, he got the game he wanted. We were also very patient throughout the whole game. We kept our temper even when they were coming back. Pablo hit a great shot late in the fourth quarter and kept our winning character all game long. We did that all season long and did it again. The series is not over, because I think Game 2 is even more important than Game 1. We don't want to go back to Vitoria losing one game here in Barcelona. I expect a different game on Thursday. Both teams will prepare something different. One thing is for certain: We really wanted to win the game and did it. It was a very important win for us."
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