Regal FC Barcelona continued its romp through the Euroleague regular season by blasting French champion Asvel Basket 64-90 at the Astroballe in Villeurbanne, France. Barcelona improved to 9-0 and all but wrapped up first place in Group A and a top seed in the Top 16 Draw with the win. The Spanish champion host Montepaschi Siena next week knowing that it would have to lose by more than 19 points to fall back to second place. Meanwhile Asvel slipped to 3-6 and faces a crucial game at Cibona next week with a ticket to the Top 16 on the line. Pete Mickeal shined during a 0-8 first-quarter run and Barcelona never looked back. The game didn’t become a blowout until back-to-back-to-back threes by Victor Sada, Gianluca Basile and Terence Morris keyed a 0-13 start to the fourth quarter and sealed the win. One of the keys for Barca was outrebounding its opponent 25-39. Juan Carlos Navarro paced Barca with 15 points, Mickeal added 13, Morris and Roger Grimau netted 10 each and Ricky Rubio recorded 9 points and 7 assists for the winners. Ali Traore led Asvel with 19 points, Rawle Marshall scored 11 and Mindaugas Lukauskis 10.
Navarro opened the scoring with his trademark floater and Traore got Asvel on the scoreboard on the next play. Rubio drilled a three-pointer from the corner, but Marshall answered with a long jumper. Mickeal increased the lead from the line. Traore brought his team within 1 only for Mickeal to hit back with a short jumper. Boni NDong made it 7-12 from the line. Mickeal added free throws and then scored a fast break layup to cap a 0-8 spurt. Traore sank 2 free throws and scored in the paint at the other end to keep his team in the game. Morris came off the bench to bury a three. Traore muscled in another score and Lukauskis added a basket, but Mickeal continued to produce points and put his team up 15-22 after 10 minutes.
Ben Dewar made an impact early in the second quarter with a three-pointer and 2 free throws. Grimau converted a tough basket underneath as the game grew physical. Fran Vazquez came up big on both ends of the floor and Grimau fed Morris for a fast break dunk as Barca regained a comfortable margin. Booby Dixon and Navarro traded threes. Navarro added a second three to up Barca’s lead to double figures. Traore attacked the basket for the hosts only to see Rubio feed Vazquez for a slam. Marshall kept Asvel alive with free throws and a three-pointer. Morris corrected a Mickeal miss and Navarro willed his way through the Asvel defense to give the visitors a 10-point lead. Morris found Rubio for a triple from the corner. Lukauskis drove for a basket before Rubio dished to Erazem Lorbek for a layup. The fast pace continued as Traore scored inside to make it 34-45 at the break.
Traore banked in a jumper to start the second half. Lorbek answered with a three and Navarro stretched the Barca lead to 14. Dixon went to the line and scored 2 and then stole the ball from Rubio and fed Lukauskis for a layup. Lukauskis capped another fast break to get Asvel within 42-50. After a timeout, the visitors turned to Mickeal, who did not disappoint. NDong added a jumper, Navarro drilled a three and NDong rejected Dewar as Barca asserted itself at both ends. An Asvel timeout changed nothing as NDong hit from outside to make it 42-59. Dewar fed Lukauskis for an alley-oop, but Rubio buried a deep three. Marshall got to the basket for a score, but NDong's basket-plus-foul kept Barca rolling. Aymeric Jeanneau got to the line and Dewar added a reverse layup as Asvel made one more mini-run. Bangaly Fofana rejected Victor Sada’s layup and Jeanneau closed the quarter by drilling a three that made it 54-65.
Asvel's zone defense continued to limit Barca until Sada rifled in a deep three. Morris added a triple and so did Basile as the visitors' lead reached 20. Basile and Grimau also scored to make it a 0-13 run that ended any doubts. T.J. Parker made an appearance and fed Traore, but Barca got points from Sada and Grimau as its lead swelled to 26. At this point the outcome was clear as both teams finished the game with thoughts of important showdowns next week.
Thursday, January 7, 2010