Regal FC Barcelona topped Cholet Basket 77-84
Defending champions Regal FC Barcelona were tested on the road but finally imposed their will 77-84 against host Cholet Basket on Wednesday in Group C before 4,800 fans at Le Meilleraie Arena seeing their first Turkish Airlines Euroleague game in a decade.. Barcelona raised its record to 2-0 while Cholet is still winless in as many games. Cholet was behind by 12 points early in the fourth quarter but rallied to within 73-74 with 2 minutes left before Victor Sada and Erazem Lorbek hit back-to-back three-pointers to push Barcelona to victory. Lorbek led the winners with 19 points, while Boni Ndong added 16 and Juan Carlos Navarro 15. Cholet, whose only lead was on the game's opening basket, suffered a 0-10 run at the hands of Barcelona and fell behind by as many as 15 in the second quarter. The hosts got 17 points from shooting guard Sammy Mejia, 16 from small forward Antywane Robinson, 12 from Vule Avdalovic and 10 from DeMarcus Nelson. Although Cholet out-rebounded Barcelona 36 to 26, the visitors made the difference by dishing 20 assists to just 9 for the hosts.
Robinson scored the game's first bucket for Cholet, but the visitors inmediately set the tone with a 0-10 run in which Ndong had 5 points and Navarro a three-point shot. Mejia tried to push the tempo for the home team and had some nice drives to the basket early, but Ricky Rubio masterfully pressed on defense and craftily orquestrated the offense for Xavi Pascual’s visiting side. When Barcelona was not sprinting the floor with Rubio and even big men like Lorbek, it was finding good position down low, either with Lorbek or Pete Mickael posting up. Barcelona got its first double-digit lead on a layup by Ndong at 6-17 and upped it to 12-24 on a three-point play by Terrence Morris. The quarter ended 14-24.
Barcelona's lead hit 14-29 after Morris canned a three-point shot and Fran Vazquez detonated a dunk to start the second quarter. Cholet was in trouble against the top team in Europe from last season, but inspired their fans then with a 10-0 response of which Avdalovic scored the first 7 points. Later, Luc-Arthur Vebobe kept Cholet that close with an emphatic dunk at 28-33, with 3 minutes left in the half. Scoring was sparce from then on, with Cholet dominating the boards and Navarro finally extending the lead with a late three-pointer that left Barcelona 9 points ahead, 29-38, at the break.
Barcelona started pulling away in the third quarter, outsizing the locals in the paint, where Lorbek and Ndong delivered an unstoppable one-two punch, combining on the first 13 points of the second half for the visitors. By that time, it was 40-51 and Cholet again looked to be in danger. By the time Vazquez joined his frontcourt mates with a basket, Barcelona's lead was 46-56, but then Robinson woke up the hosts with 5 points in a row, including a three-point bomb on the shot-clock buzzer, to cut the difference to 51-58 after 30 minutes.
Energized by the home crowd, Erman Kunter’s crew started their big run after Barcelona had regained a 12-point lead early in the fourth quarter, 51-63, on a triple by Roger Grimau. Mamoutou Diarra started the hosts' comeback with his own long-range shot, and by the time Mejia converted consecutive baskets a couple minutes later, Cholet was as close as 62-66 with 6 minutes to go. A fallaway prayer by Randall Falker followed, and then a running bank shot by Avdalovic set the place in a frenzy as the hosts were within 66-68. The last 4 minutes turned into an ofensive barrage, as it seemed every shot by Cholet was finding the net. Lorbek and Mejia traded three-pointers until Sada got open and made his own to give the visitors some breathing room, 73-77, with 1:34 left to play. The worst had passed for Barcelona by the time Mejia missed on an open triple from the corner, Lorbek secured the second rebound and sank his own triple after a Sada assist to widen the lead to seven and put it out of reach for a Cholet team that certainly entertained its fans with a great effort.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010