Barcelona hangs for Game 1 victory in OT
In a tense thriller that either team could have won twice, FC Barcelona Regal survived a tough challenge on its own court to defeat Panathinaikos Athens 72-70 in overtime Tuesday in the opening game of their best-of-five playoff series. Barcelona, which extended its Euroleague winning streak to 13 games, also hosts Game 2 at Palau Blaugrana on Thursday. Juan Carlos Navarro's three-pointer with 2 minutes left in overtime proved the game-winner as Barcelona rallied from 6 points behind with under 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter to avoid defeat. Navarro led the winners with 14 points, hitting 4 of 10 three-pointers, while Victor Sada rallied Barcelona with all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter and overtime. Ante Tomic had a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds, plus a huge block late in overtime, while Sarunas Jasikevicius scored 11 and dished 5 assists. James Gist, whose blocked shot forced overtime, joined Stephan Lasme with 14 points each to lead Panathinaikos. Dimitris Diamantidis added 10 while Roko Ukic had 9 and 7 assists. Ukic, Diamantidis and Jonas Maciulis struck from downtown in a 0-14 first-quarter run that put Panathinaikos up 9-21 late in the first quarter. Tomic and Navarro fueled a 13-0 run as Barcelona regained the lead, 22-21, early in the second, while a buzzer-beating basket by Mike Bramos kept the Greens within 34-32 at halftime. Panathinaikos locked down its defense after the break and got back-to-back alley-oop dunks from Lasme to go ahead again by a high of 36-44 after halftime. Barcelona tied it with back-to-back triples by Navarro and Jasikevicius, 60-60, setting up a dramatic finish and overtime, in which the hosts held on for victory.
First quarter: 0-14 run sends Panathinaikos up early
Tomic got the scoring started with a layup that Ukic bettered with a three-pointer for the Greens. By the time Diamantidis added a corner triple and a steal that Kostas Tsartsaris converted, Panathinaikos led 2-8 lead. Barcelona kept struggling to score as Maciulis joined the Panathinaikos three-point shooters to make it 2-11 and force Barcelona coach Xavi Pascual to call timeout. Sofoklis Schortsanitis followed a jump hook with 1-of-2 free throws to cap a 0-14 Panathinaikos run. Marcelinho Huertas came off the bench to rescue Barcelona from almost 5 scoreless minutes with a three-point play, as Panathinaikos had to adjust its aggressive defense once it entered the foul bonus. Free throws by Navarro made it 7-14 beore Maciulis hit a low-post basket and Lasme a tip-in at 7-18. Tomic sank a jump hook before Diamantidis drained his second triple, matching the Greens' high lead at 9-21. Tomic insisted with a close basket to get Barcelona a bit closer, 11-21, but Panathinaikos had sent its message already.
Second quarter: Barcelona rallies, takes the lead
Navarro fired in a catch-and-shoot triple that Huertas copied to get the home crowd loud to start of the second quarter. Panathinaikos struggled without Diamantidis on court as a jump hook by Tomic forced the Greens to call timeout at 19-21. Nate Jawai followed a wild alley-oop slam with 1-of-2 free throws as Barcelona took a lead 22-21. Gist ended more than 3 scoreless minutes for Panathinaikos with a dunk and a three-pointer that gave his team some fresh air and a lead back at 22-26. Jasikevicius quickly answered from downtown, Tsartsaris scored down low and free throws by Nathan Jawai kept the hosts within 27-28. Joe Ingles appeared with a driving layup that prompted Panathinaikos coach Argiris Pedoulakis to use a timeout at 29-28, but Navarro soon added to Barcelona's advantage with a corner triple. Gist responded with a highlight slam in traffic, but a jump hook by Tomic kept Barcelona ahead before a buzzer-beating put-back by Bramos fixed the halftime score at 34-32.
Third quarter: Lasme takes over, Panathinaikos leads again
Lasme swished a long baseline jumper for Panathinaikos to tie immediately after the break, as Barcelona started to miss open shots. Lasme buried another five-meter jumper to put Panathinaikos back ahead, 34-36. Gist scored in the low post but Huertas matched him with a floating layup. Panathinaikos dominated the boards with an athletic frontline - Maciulis, Gist and Lasme - together on court. Maciulis split free throws before Panathinaikos made a move with spectacular, back-to-back alley-oop jams by Lasme to make it a seven-point game, 36-43. A free throw by Ukic capped a 2-14 Panathinaikos run as the hosts went scoreless for more than 4 minutes until Jawai sank foul shots. Barcelona looked for better ball circulation with Jasikevicius at point guard. He nailed a big triple after a timeout that Bramos copied at the other end for a 41-47 Panathinaikos margin. Jasikevicius kept pacing Barcelona with a driving layup, while Lasme delivered his third alley-oop slam in the quarter. Ingles kept the hosts within 45-49 with a baseline jumper, but free throws by Lasme gave the Greens a 45-51 edge after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Sada sends opener to OT!
Sada stepped up with an alley-oop layup for Barcelona early in the fourth quarter that Gist matched with a close-in basket. Barcelona improved its aggressiveness on defense and a put-back basket by Jawai brought the hosts within 49-53 with 8 minutes left. Ukic and Sada traded three-pointers and a power basket by Schortsanitis gave the Greens a 52-58 margin. Sada scored again to recharge the crowd, but Gist silenced them with huge slam. Navarro answered with a catch-and-shoot triple before Jasikevicius also struck from downtown as Barcelona suddenly tied it up, 60-60, with just under 5 minutes left. After a Panathinaikos timeout, 2 quick offensive fouls just as sent Lasme out of the game with the limit of five. The turnovers mounted with 3 in a row for each team as almost 3 tense minutes passed scorelessly until Diamantidis made 1 of 2 free throws with 2:07 to play for a 60-61 Panathinaikos lead. Sada answered with a driving layup and an assist to Tomic to take the lead back for Barcelona, 64-61, with 1:20 to play. Panathinaikos looked in trouble until Diamantidis beat the shot-clock from way downtown with a game-tying triple on the one-minute mark. After misses from deep by Navarro and Ukic, Barcelona got the last possession with 20 seconds left. Jasikevicius drove but Ukic tipped the ball off out of bounds, giving Barcelona a game-winning chance with 2.5 seconds left. Inbounding from under the basket, Barcelona got the ball to Tomic underneath, but Gist came from behind to block his hook shot and send the game to overtime!
Overtime: Navarro has the last answer as Barcelona survives
Tsartsaris and Sada scored 3 and 4 points, respectively, in the first 90 seconds of overtime before Tomic added a free throw to push Barcelona ahead 69-67. Panathinaikos found Gist alone at the top of the arc and he put the visitors back in front with a three-point strike at 69-70. Barcelona answered by going to Navarro for his own go-ahead triple with 2 minutes left. A pair of Panathinaikos misses left the score at 72-70 going into the final minute. After Navarro missed a runner, Tomic rejected Gist with 25 seconds left. Tsartsaris fouled Sada, but he missed both free throws, giving Panathinaikos a last chance. With 3 seconds left, Gist hit the floor after missing a dunk, fouled by Wallace, and went to the line with a chance to force double overtime. After his first shot fell out, he missed the second, too, and Tomic got the rebound and was fouled. He missed both free throws, too, however, letting Ukic launch the potential game-winner from well over halfcourt. When it missed, Barcelona had sweated out victory in a thriller to open the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs!
Tuesday, April 9, 2013