Regal FC Barcelona used its array of talents to overcome a potential case of jetlag and blow out hosts Nancy 54-82 in Group B on Thursday, spoiling the latter's first-ever Euroleague game. Having travelled to the Pacific Ocean and back in the previous week, Barcelona looked none the worse for its journeys while storming after halftime on a 5-16 run that left Nancy out of threat range for the rest of the game. Barcelona's big men proved the difference, as Ersan Ilyasova expoded for 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Fran Vazquez added 12 for the winners. Everybody else on Barcelona's bench except one player scored the rest of the points, but it was the visitors' defense that confounded Nancy into 34% two-point shooting despite 19 points from Lamayne Wilson and 11 from Victor Samnick. Five different Barcelona players - Gianluca Basile, Jaka Lakovic, Juan Carlos Navarro, Fran Vazquez and Andre Barrett - had 3 or more assists. Nancy only had 12 total.
Barcelona shook off the cobwebs from its long weekend trip to Los Angeles in time to take consistent early leads as all of its starters got in the scoring column early, Lakovic pumped in the game's first three-pointer. By the time of his second strike from deep, the guests were ahead 7-12, but Nancy's home crowd, enjoying its Euroleague debut, too, couldn't be quieted. Wilson soon came to the rescue with 6 consecutive points that let the hosts close within 13-16, but Ilyasova answered from downtown and Vazquez dunked to put the visitors in charge 15-21 after 10 minutes in which ball movement for easier shots was the main difference between the two teams.
Rod Benson came on and dunked to open the second quarter for Nancy, but Basile buried an open triple in response. When Vazquez fed David Andersen inside and Roger Grimau drove for another basket, the guests had a double-digit lead at 17-28. Those three kept attacking until the lead had climbed to 22-36, while Barcelona's interior defense had Nancy thoroughly corraled. Steed Tchicamboud and Samnick revived Nancy's offense now, firing up the home crowd. Nancy's defense tightened toward halftime as Cyril Julian joined the scoring and the Barcelona lead dipped to single digits at 30-39. Navarro added free throws, but Julian couldn't be stopped on either end, while Wilson drilled a triple from the corner pulling Nancy within 35-41 at halftime.
Barça spent no time at all after the break in reestablishing double-digit dominance as Ilyasova and Basile sandwiched clutch triples around a basket by Vazquez, all of it good for a 37-49 scoreboard. Ilyasova kept it going with the next 4 points for the visitors, to which Vazquez added a pair of dunks to break the game open at 40-57. Even though Barcelona missed some open shots and suffered turnovers now, its defense kept things under wraps until Grimau, Daniel Santiago and Lakovic, the latter dropping his third three-point shot, could down the last 8 points of the quarter and put the score out of Nancy's reach at 45-66.
The fourth quarter started with Barça staking its biggest lead yet, 23 points at 45-68, while only Wilson seemed capable of scoring for Nancy. The only questions remaining concerned whether all 12 of Barcelona's players would get in the scoring column, and when Andre Barrett and Lubos Barton hit baskets, that made 10 of them. Jordi Trias added his name to the list, too, making for a new high lead of 53-80. The fans in Nancy certainly were treated to some stellar basketball in their city's first Euroleague game, even though it was the visiting team who put on the show.
Thursday, October 23, 2008