Regal FC Barcelona advanced to the Quarterfinal Playoffs and climbed atop the Top 16 Group F standings by thrashing archrivals Real Madrid 90-79 in front of a sellout crowd at Palau Blaugrana in the Spanish superclassic on Wednesday night. The two teams are now tied atop the Group F standings with 4-1 records, but Barcelona has the tiebreak advantage over Madrid due to its narrow 85-83 road loss in Palacio Vistalegre in late January. Barcelona will win Group F if it beats Maccabi Electra in Tel Aviv next week. Meanwhile, Madrid, which had already qualified last week, will be first if it downs Alba and Maccabi beats Barcelona. David Andersen led Barca with 22 points, while Juan Carlos Navarro recorded 16 points and 6 assists. Fran Vazquez and Gianluca Basile added 11 each for the winners. Marko Tomas paced Madrid with 18 points, Louis Bullock netted 15 and Sergio Llull and Tomas Van den Spiegel added 11 each. Navarro and Ersan Ilyasova helped Barcelona take a 30-21 edge after 10 minutes. The game turned into a physical battle in the second quarter and Barcelona made the most out of it to get a double-digit lead, 48-38, at halftime. Bullock kept Madrid within 57-47 after the break, but an outstanding Andersen and a three-pointer by a recovered Jaka Lakovic broke the game open, 70-49. Madrid never recovered, as Barcelona cruised to a critical home win that came with a playoff berth and the chance to win its Top 16 group.
Madrid coach Joan Plaza shocked everyone by placing Van den Spiegel and newcomer Kennedy Winston in the starting lineup. Victor Sada got Barcelona going with a three-pointer from the corner and Daniel Santiago added a free throw for a 4-0 lead. Madrid went scoreless for more than two minutes until Bullock nailed a six-meter jumper. but Navarro immediately answered from downtown and added his trademark "bomba" for a 9-2 Barca lead. Van den Spiegel scored down low and Bullock sank a triple to keep Madrid within 9-7. Andersen joined the three-point shootout before Axel Hervelle and Sada traded layups. Lubos Barton buried a mid-range jumper that Llull bettered with a triple to bring Madrid within 16-13.. Navarro sank 4 free throws, but Llull struck again from downtown. Ilyasova took over with a fast break layup and foul shots by Basile and Vazquez boosted the hosts' lead to 26-17. Ilyasova stepped up with an easy layup that capped a 9-1 run and soon added free throws, but Felipe Reyes single-handedly kept Madrid within 30-21 after 10 intense minutes.
Barcelona kept dominating the boards early in the second quarter with Ilyasova and Vazquez together on court. Meanwhile, Basile nailed a triple coming off a screen to make it a 12-point game. Tomas followed free throws with an off-balance layup-plus-foul to bring Madrid back to life, 33-26. Basile buried an outstanding jumper that Jeremiah Massey matched with foul shots. Vazquez found space for an easy dunk, causing Madrid to call timeout at 37-28. Vazquez slammed it again before being awarded a standing ovation as he returned to the bench. Bullock beat the shot clock buzzer with a triple, but free throws by Basile restored a double-digit Barcelona lead, 41-31. Bullock and Navarro traded foul shots and a layup by Andersen kept the hosts way ahead at 45-33. Madrid kept missing open shots until Van den Spiegel scored around the basket, but Andersen answered with a jump hook. Free throws by Van den Spiegel, Andersen and Bullock fixed the halftime score at 48-38.
Vazquez sank a baseline jumper immediately after the break, but Mumbru answered from downtown to bring Madrid within single digits, 50-41. Andersen and Bullock traded three-pointers while a power layup by Vazquez got the crowd involved at 55-44. Andersen shined with a fast break layup, but free throws by Bullock kept Madrid within 57-47. Andersen took over with a reverse layup and had a big block on Mumbru that allowed Barton to bury a big three-pointer at the other end, making Madrid call timeout at 62-47. Andersen came through with a smooth move in the low post, which Hervelle erased with free throws. A technical foul on Reyes allowed Barton and Navarro to hit foul shots and a three-pointer by Lakovic broke the game open, 70-49. Massey tried to change things with a power layup, but Barcelona kept full control now. Massey shined with a tip-in, but Basile scored off a steal for a 74-53 Barcelona lead. Llull followed free throws with a three-pointer to get Madrid within 74-58 after 30 minutes.
Ilyasova buried a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter, as Madrid could not find the way to the basket because of the hosts' outstanding man-to-man defense. Navarro fed Daniel Santiago for an easy layup that restored a 21-point margin. Van den Spiegel tried to change things for Madrid, but Sada swished a six-meter jumper that Navarro followed with a seven-meter bomb that sealed the outcome, 84-59. Everything was said and done already but Madrid kept fighting. Reyes sank a three-pointer – his first in 85 Euroleague career games – as Barcelona tried to run the game clock down and please its crowd with alley-oop attempts. Andersen sank a five-meter jumper and Van den Spiegel and Tomas tried to erase the deficit for Madrid. Nothing changed in the final three minutes as the Barcelona fans were already celebrating a very special win against its archrival that could be the key for their team to get the home-court advantage in the upcoming playoffs.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009