FC Barcelona Regal thrashed Union Olimpija 64-86
FC Barcelona Regal started the 2011-12 Turkish Airlines Euroleague on the right foot, for the 11th time out of 12 occasions in season openers, with a convincing 64-86 road win at Union Olimpija on Thursday night. Union Olimpija managed to keep up in the first half thanks to rookie Danny Green's points, but in the second half, the combined effort of the guests led by Marcelinho Huertas broke the game open for good. Barca therefore startes its Group D journey with a 1-0 record while Olimpija will have to get to next week with a 0-1. Huertas led the winners with his 17 points, Pete Mickeal added 15 in his comeback sine November 2010, and Fran Vazquez posted 10. For Olimpija, Green led the way with 17 points and Ratko Varda added 16. Union Olimpija's 2 of 16 from the arc was a big burden to carry that together with the 3 steals against 11 turnovers could not match Barcelona's 6 to 8 more balanced record.
The game started with a fast pace on both sides and no missed shots. Erazem Lorbek opened the scoring with a long jumper and Ratko Varda soon copied him for
Union Olimpija. Taking a loose ball Chuck Eidson hit a three-point play under the basket but then an 8-0 run by Olimpija sparked by Danny Green and his 4
points in a row started. Both defenses were starting to adjust and Eidson was missing the first shot of the game at 6-5 but then Varda appeared in the paint
twice for Olimpija for the 10-5. It was Eidson who broke the spell for Barcelona, and three three-pointers by the guests, one by Lorbek and two in a row by
Juan Carlos Navarro made it 14-20 for Barca, forcing an Olimpija timeout. The hosts managed to stay in the game but Barca was getting the rhythm of the duel.
Pete Mickeal was back to Euroleague action for the first time since November 17, 2010 but Olimpija had the last word with a basket in penetration by Green
for a 19-24 Barca edge after 10 minutes.
The second quarter started with Olimpija making it 21-24 but the guests didn't slow down. While Olimpija was not too accurate from the penalty line, Mickeal
blasted a three on the other side. Green and Deon Thompson off the offensive rebound kept the hosts in the game but a 0-6 run sparked by Frank Vazquez's
monster blocked and capped by Mickeal's new layup made it a 10-point game for Barca, 25-35. Green was still theman for Olimpija as he was keeping the deficit
of his team in single digits with an acrobatic basket, 28-37, but CJ Wallace stood up for four straight points to keep Barca in a safe place. Using pressure
on the offensive rebound, Barcelona managed to increase the lead even more with less than one minute to go, 30-41, and the scoreboard stayed the same at the
Barcelona stormed into the second half with Marcelinho Huertas' three and then Lorbek added a bucket to make it a 16-point game, 30-46. However, te Olimpija
defense regrouped and the hosts started to look for the rim and finding it when Aleksandar Capin, Varda and Green teamed up for a 6-0 burst that forced
Barca's timeout with 36-46. The crowd in Ljubljana was now pushing hard and the team obliged with defense that forced an 8-second halfcourt violation on the
guests and in the next play, Damir Markota hit a three from the corner to make it 40-47. Barcelona kept its cool however and Eidson quoetedthe stands with
his three while Navarro copied him for 40-53. Vazquez rounded up the reaction with an authoritative slam that forced an Olimpija timeout. Green was the man
of the game for the hosts as he scored and then fed Thompson but Huertas was his nemesis in the game as he assisted Vazquez for an alley-oop and then scoted
the layup to keep the guests away at 44-59. A late rally thanks to a three by Ben Woodside and Jaka Blazic's layup off the fastbreak closed the third period
at 51-61 for Barcelona.
The final period started with exchange of points on both sides, but Barcelona started to find a good rhythm and used Olimpija's tiredness to start pulling away little by little. Kosta Perovic found the space for four straight points off the offensive boards for 56-71 and then Mickeal slammed after a steal for a highest lead at that point of 17 points, 56-73 with less than 6 minutes to go. The guests made it a 19-point game in the next plays and only Varda, from the free throw line, was giving signs of life for Olimpija in offense. When the lead finally reached the 20 points through Joe Ingles and Huertas, it was clear that Barcelona would walk away from Ljubljana with the first win of the season.
Thursday, October 20, 2011