| Crvena Zvezda thoroughly defeated Regal FC Barcelona Thursday afternoon at the Palau Sant Jordi, 56-73, in the first Group B matchup of the Euroleague Basketball Nike International Junior Tournament. Crvena Zvezda controlled the game throughout thanks to 14 points each by Marko Radonjic and Andrija Bojic, plus 12 and 11 from Ivan Marinkovic and Ivan Saicic, respectively. Barcelona struggled in front of its home fans and never seemed to pose a threat after the Serb squad pulled ahead, 17-19, in the first quarter. Aitor Gomez led the scoring for the Spanish side with 17 points and 7 rebounds, while Lluis Costa followed with 15 points.
Barcelona jumped to an early lead sparked by Costa's perimeter marksmanship, but Radonjic's aggressiveness in attacking the rim in transition kept Crvena Zvezda close and a Bojic three-point play allowed the Serbian squad to cap the quarter ahead, 17-19, after a 1-9 run to close the period.
Josep Perez controlled the tempo for the home team, while Gomez and Carles Gasque banged in the paint against the towering Bojic.
Crvena Zvezda kept the foot on the gas to start the second quarter, as Marinkovic slammed home a powerful 360 dunk in traffic and Petar Aranitovic dropped a triple, before Gomez answered with a two-handed slam at the other end. But the Serbian squad imposed its size in the paint to extend their lead to 24-32. Perez worked to establish some kind of offensive flow for Barcelona, and Nacho Marin, Costa and Gomez notched a stretch of close-range buckets to give the Spanish squad some relief, as the half closed at a 33-40 disadvantage for the home side.
After the break Crvena Zvezda kept working inside, tightening pressure on the Barcelona ball handlers and slowing the tempo. The Spanish side struggled to set up position inside as the game turned into a defensive battle of attrition. A dunk by Saicic made it 35-46 for the Serbian squad before Gomez returned the favor, but Crvena Zvezda stayed focused, running up the lead to 42-55 after a triple by Radonjic made it 42-55. Barcelona couldn’t seal off the defensive glass and entered the final quarter down 43-58 after a Bojic layup.
With 10 minutes to go, Barcelona fought back on a lay-up and dunk by Alexandr Zhigulin and a clean post move by Gomez, tightening the margin to 56-65. But Nikola Cvorovic dropped a dagger three with 3 minutes left and the Serbian squad made Barça with second-chance opportunities. Marinkovic effectively put the lid on the game with a two-handed slam and free throw, taking a 56-71 lead with under two minutes to go.
Thursday, May 05, 2011