Regal FC Barcelona took the big showdown between undefeated teams in Group A and sent a statesment that echoed all around the competition by downing Montepaschi 65-84 in Siena, Italy on Thursday night. Barcelona reached the 2009-10 regular season's halfway mark with a perfect 5-0 record and Montepaschi was now second at 4-1. Boni Ndong led the winners with 19 points on 9-of-10 two-pointers. Pete Mickeal added 14 and Juan Carlos Navarro had 12 for Barcelona. Terrell McIntyre and Romain Sato each had 13 points for Montepaschi while Henry Domercant added 10. Ricky Rubio's defense forced McIntyre to committ 5 turnovers and finish the game without dishing any assist for just the second time in his 48-game Euroleague career. Mickeal and Ndong paced Barcelona in the first quarter but a layup by David Hawkins got Montepaschi within 18-20 after 10 minutes. Rubio managed to shut down McIntyre and Montepaschi's offense collapsed. Meanwhile, Fran Vazquez and Mickeal helped Barcelona to get a nine-point lead, 34-43, at halftime. Mickeal and Terence Morris shined to give Barcelona a 15-point lead, 53-68, with over 6 minutes to go. McIntyre and Hawkins tried to bring Montepaschi back to life but Ndong and Rubio helped the guests to seal a very important road win long before the final buzzer.
Barcelona tried a very athletic frontcourt in the beginning with Mickeal, Morris and Ndong together on court. Mickeal got Barcelona going with a driving layup and matched Sato's triple with a bomb from downtown for a 3-5 Barcelona lead. McIntyre struggled to find the game rhythm against Rubio while Ndong silenced the crowd with a dunk. Nikos Zisis buried a running jumper that Mickeal erased with free throws. McIntyre and Ndong traded baskets but Sato banked in a mid-range shot for a 9-11 Montepaschi deficit. Ndong kept pacing Barcelona while Vazquez soon gave Barcelona a five-point lead, 10-15. Ben Eze rescued Montepaschi with an easy layup but Rubio kept dominating the game with court vision and excellent defense on McIntyre. Montepaschi tried Zisis at point guard but a layup by Vazquez made the hosts call timeout at 12-17. Shaun Stonerook shined with a put-back layup and Zisis added free throws to bring the hosts within 16-17. Jaka Lakovic sank a seven-meter bomb but a layup by Hawkins kept the hosts as close as 18-20 after 10 minutes.
Montepaschi tried to open the court with Domercant, Stonerook and Ksystof Lavrinovic together on court. Barcelona went scoreless for more than 2 minutes while Zisis scored in penetration for a 20-20 tie. Erazem Lorbek downed a triple from the top of the key and matched Lavrinovic's jumper with a six-meter shot. Navarro buried an open three-pointer in transition to make Siena call timeout at 22-28. Domercant sank a jumper but Navarro found Vazquez for an easy basket and Lorbek scored down low to make it an eight-point game, 24-32. Domercant kept trying to changed things and Lavrinovic sank free throws, as the hosts improved their defense. An acrobatic layup by McIntyre got the crowd involved at 30-34. Vazquez scored down low but a red hot Domercant sank another mid-range jumper. Rubio took over with a corner triple - and the free throw that came with it. McIntyre shined with an electric driving layup but Montepaschi had lost control at both ends now. Free throws by Mickeal boosted the guests' lead to 34-43 at halftime.
Vazquez drew a foul and sank free throws immediately after the break, as Barcelona tried to slow down the game tempo. McIntyre tried to improve his team's ball circulation and the hosts improved its defense through an outstanding Hawkins. Meanwhile, Eze followed a layup with 1-of-2 foul shots from a 38-45 deficit. Ndong silenced the crowd with a layup-plus-foul and coach Simone Pianigiani called timeout to adjust his team's offense. Hawkins took over with a power layup that Ndong matched with a mid-range jumper. Sato gave Montepaschi some hope with 4-of-4 free throws but Lakovic took over with a seven-meter bomb and Navarro made Barcelona restore a double-digit lead, 44-54. Domercant sank his trademark mid-range shot that Mickeal matched with a power basket. Montepaschi kept attacking the basket and going the foul line often, as Sato, Lavrinovic and Zisis got their team within 51-57. Domercant hit another stop-and-pop jumper but free throws by Navarro and a buzzer-beating tip-in by Mickeal gave Barcelona a 53-61 margin after 30 minutes.
Morris followed a backdoor layup with an open three-pointer to give Barcelona a 53-66 early in the fourth quarter, as Montepaschi quickly called timeout right after a 24-second violation. The hosts now tried to use short possessions but couldn't find open shots due to Barcelona's near-perfect man-to-man defense. Morris kept pacing Barcelona with a dunk that made it a 15-point game, 53-68. Hawkins scored in penetration and Zisis added a layup in transition for a 57-68 Montepaschi deficit with 6 minutes left. McIntyre took over with consecutive three-pointers that brought the hosts back to life, 63-70, with under 6 minutes left. Rubio sank a five-meter jumper and Ndong added a high-flying put-back basket to make Barcelona put the victory on ice, 63-74. The outcome was clear but both teams kept fighting for points differential. Barcelona did not give up and an incredible alleyoop dunk by Ndong highlighted a 0-11 run that allowed the guests to get back home with a critical road win - sealed in style with an eight-meter triple by Navarro.
Thursday, November 26, 2009