Mickeal shines, Navarro reaches milestone, FCB Regal rolls past Caja Laboral
FC Barcelona Regal sent a message that echoed all around Top 16 Group F by topping previously undefeated Caja Laboral Vitoria 79-90 in front of over 15,000 fans at Fernando Buesa Arena on Thursday. The two teams are now tie for second place in Group F, each with a 4-1 record and behind Montepaschi Siena at 4-0. Barcelona broke Vitoria's 17-game winning streak in both the Spanish League and the Euroleague. Pete Mickeal paced the winners with 23 points on 10-of-11 two-point shooting. Joe Ingles added 12 while Ante Tomic and Juan Carlos Navarro each had 11 for Barcelona. Navarro became the first player to reach 3,000 points in Euroleague history. Maciej Lampe led Vitoria with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Fernando San Emeterio added 14 and Nemanja Bjelica 11 for the hosts. Milko Bjelica and Lampe shined early and a layup by Andres Nocioni gave Vitoria a 19-11 margin. Ingles and Erazem Lorbek stepped up to keep Barcelona within 28-27 after 10 exciting minutes. Ingles remained on fire and got some help from Nate Jawai and Lorbek to keep Barcelona ahead, 47-50, at halftime. Tomic and an outstanding Mickeal fueled a 3-14 Barcelona run that allowed the guests to get a 13-point lead, 54-67, late in the third quarter. Vitoria managed to get within 70-71 on a layup by Nemanja Bjelica, but Mickeal led a 2-14 run that Victor Sada capped with a three-pointer, as Barcelona boosted its margin to 72-85 and never looked back. Spanish coaching legend Manel Comas was honored in a pre-game celebration and received a standing ovation that brought him to tears. Comas, who is battling cancer, led the then-called Taugres to its only European title, the 1996 Saporta Cup.
First quarter: Navarro makes history in exciting start
Milko Bjelica got Vitoria going with a jump hook, which Mickeal bettered with a three-pointer for a 2-3 Barcelona lead. Milko Bjelica and Sada traded close baskets, as Barcelona could not run its offense through a double-teamed Tomic. Lampe swished a mid-range shot and a corner triple by Thomas Heurtel gave Vitoria a 9-5 lead. Navarro answered from downtown and a dunk by Andres Nocioni brought the crowd to its feet at 13-8. Milko Bjelica shined with a backdoor layup, which Navarro improved on with a second triple - which allowed him to reach the 3,000-point mark. Lampe made free throws and a power layup by Nocioni made it an 8-point game. Nate Jawai tried to change things with foul shots and Ingles struck from downtown to bring Barcelona within 19-16. Lampe scored in the low post, Jawai, Fabien Causeur and Lorbek made free throws and another triple by Ingles tied it at 23-23. Lampe made free throws, Nemanja Bjelica bettered Lorbek's jump hook with an off-balance three-pointer and Marcelinho Huertas kept Barcelona within 28-27 at the end of an extraordinary first quarter .
Second quarter: Ingles, Lorbek give Barcelona the lead
Both teams struggled to score early in the second quarter until Omar Cook swished a three-pointer for a 31-27 Vitoria lead. Barcelona could not find the way to the basket until Sarunas Jasikevicius fed Tomic for a slam. San Emeterio stepped up with a layup-plus-foul, but Ingles kept Barcelona within 34-31. Ingles kept pushing the guests with consecutive coast-to-coast layups, which caused Vitoria to call timeout at 34-35. Lorbek nailed a jump hook that San Emeterio erased with free throws. Tomic scored in the post, but Cook buried another shot from beyond the arch to tie it at 39-39. Tomic shined with a layup in transition and C.J. Wallace joined the three-point shootout to give Barcelona some fresh air, 39-44. San Emeterio took over with an acrobatic basket. Navarro made foul shots and a three-pointer by Brad Oleson kept the hosts within 44-46. Jawai dunked, San Emeterio downed a catch-and-shoot triple and a layup by Mickeal fixed the halftime score at 47-50.
Third quarter: Mickeal leads a 3-12 run as Barcelona takes off
Tomic swished a jump hook right after the break and Navarro bettered Milko Bjelica's free throws with a bomb from downtown that made it a 6-point game. Nocioni scored in the low post, but Mickeal erased that with a five-meter jumper and soon sank a tough shot to boost the guests' lead to 51-59. Laboral could not find the way to the basket and Tomic gave Barcelona its first double-digit lead, 51-61. Lampe made free throws and didn't find any help around midway through the third quarter. Meanwhile, Mickeal kept pacing Barcelona with back-to-back layups to give his team a 12-point lead, 53-65. Lampe tried to ignite Vitoria's comeback but a jump hook by Jawai forced the hosts to call another timeout at 54-67. San Emeterio took over with a driving layup and Lampe made more foul shots to bring Vitoria within single digits, 58-67. San Emeterio nailed an off-balance shot but a jumper by Jasikevicius gave Barcelona a 60-69 lead after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Visitors wrap it up with time to spare
Lampe split free throws and added a backdoor layup early in the fourth quarter to get the crowd involved at 63-69. Nemanja Bjelica struck from downtown and Lampe soon brought Vitoria as close as 68-69. Sada shined with an acrobatic alley-oop layup, as Barcelona adjusted its man-to-man defense. Nemanja Bjelica scored off a steal, but a turnaround jumper by Mickeal gave Barcelona some fresh air at 70-73. Mickeal stayed on fire with another basket and a three-pointer by Lorbek capped a 0-7 run and boosted the guests' margin to 70-78 with over four minutes left. Nocioni nailed a baseline jumper, Tomic made free throws and an acrobatic layup by Mickeal sealed the outcome, 72-82, with three minutes to go. Sada swished a corner three-pointer to cap a 2-14 run. Vitoria kept trying, as Nemanja Bjelica and Nocioni split free throws, but Barcelona kept using long possessions and did not find any trouble to cruise to a very important road win.
Thursday, January 24, 2013