Playoffs Round 4 - April 02, 2009 CET: 20:30 Local time: 20:30 - FERNANDO BUESA ARENA
PLAYOFFS, ROUND 4
GROUP Quarterfinal 1

Records

Ave.   Ave.
0-0 Final Four 0-0
2-1 Playoffs 1-2
4-2 Top 16 5-1
8-2 Regular Season 9-1
14-5 Overall 15-4

Referees

Crew Chief
ZAVLANOS, NIKOLAOS, Greece
Referee
BELOSEVIC, ILIJA, Serbia
Umpire
RYZHYK, BORYS, Ukraine

Team Stats

Ave.   Ave.
88.8 Points 81.2
33.3 Rebounds 34.3
8.8 O. Rebounds 9.6
24.4 D. Rebounds 24.7
14.8 Assists 15.2
7.1 Steals 8.1
3.3 Blocks 4.7
12.8 Turnovers 12.3
56.8 % 2PT 55.4 %
42.0 % 3PT 37.6 %
77.3 % FT 81.1 %
100.6 Index 96.6

Player Stats

Ave.   Ave.
18.2 / Rakocevic Points 14.8 / Navarro
5.5 / Mickeal Rebounds 7.1 / ILYASOVA, ERSAN
1.8 / MCDONALD, WILL OR 2.0 / Vazquez
4.6 / Mickeal DR 5.3 / ILYASOVA, ERSAN
4.5 / PRIGIONI, PABLO Assists 3.8 / Navarro
1.6 / PRIGIONI, PABLO Steals 1.4 / Navarro
1.5 / SPLITTER, TIAGO Blocks 1.9 / Vazquez
2.4 / Rakocevic Turnovers 2.1 / Navarro
73.8 % / TELETOVIC, MIRZA 2PT 87.0 % / Barton
56.1 % / Vidal 3PT 53.6 % / Basile
89.2 % / Vidal FT 92.4 % / Navarro
16.8 / Rakocevic Index 15.8 / Navarro

THE TAKE

Tau Ceramica will look to close out its Quarterfinal Playoffs series against Spanish League rival Regal FC Barcelona when it hosts Game 4 of the best-of-five series on Thursday at the Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria, Spain. Tau turned in its finest defensive effort of the season to overcome its lowest scoring game so far in beating Barca 69-62 in Game 3 on Tuesday to take a 2-1 series lead. Igor Rakocevic scored 15 to lead Tau as it committed 22 turnovers. Jaka Lakovic stepped up with 20 for Barca, which was without leading scorer Juan Carlos Navarro, who sat out with a leg injury. His participation in Game 4 is also in question, and that could have a major impact on this game. Meanwhile Barca’s star forward, Ersan Ilyasova, who posted double-doubles in each of the first two games of the series, shot a combined 0 for 9 (0 for 6 on two-pointers) and was held to 0 points and just 2 rebounds. Even though the visitors’ other frontcourt players, David Andersen, Daniel Santiago and Fran Vazquez, all contributed at least 6 points, no one player established himself as a force, while Tau’s All-Euroleague center Tiago Splitter and power forward Mirza Teletovic played strong and forward Pete Mickeal contributed 11 points and 9 boards. Especially without Navarro, head coach Xavi Pascual must maximize his big men to win Game 4 and bring the series back to Barcelona a fifth and deciding game next week. One area that Barcelona could try to expose on Thursday is fresher legs. While the visitors essentially gave minutes to 10 players, Tau employed a seven-man rotation for much of the game with playmaker Pablo Prigioni, Teletovic and Splitter all playing more than 30 minutes. Tau may need veteran point guard Vlado Ilievski, a former Barca player himself, to contribute more so that the hosts can rest Prigioni, Rakocevic and Sergi Vidal more if needed. Even without Navarro, Pascual can still share backcourt time among Lakovic, Gianluca Basile, Victor Sada and Andre Barrett plus swingman Roger Grimau and small forward Lubos Barton. It will be interesting to see which way Tau head coach Dusko Ivanovic tries to take this game – to another defensive slugfest or using his high-powered offense to attack in a high-scoring affair. Barca has the capability to match on both fronts, but must have its best players all making an impact. Another off-night from any of Barca’s top players with Navarro out could be too much to overcome in this must-win road game against such a fierce and experienced rival.

GAME NOTES

Tau Ceramica
  • Guard Igor Rakocevic leads the Euroleague in scoring this season with 18.2 points per game.
  • Forward Mirza Teletovic has made at least 1 three-pointer in nine straight Euroleague games. He is shooting 46.1% from downtown over that span.
  • Teletovic has drilled 4 three-pointers in seven different games this season and made 3 four other times. He leads the competition with 50 triples this season.
  • Point guard Pablo Prigioni set a Euroleague career high with 17 points in the Quarterfinals Playoffs Game 1 win at Barcelona. Prigioni also matched a Euroleague career-high with 5 triples made.
  • Guard Vlado Ilievski played two seasons for Barcelona earlier in his career. Ilievski played alongside current Barca players Juan Carlos Navarro, Roger Grimau and Victor Sada. He helped the club win the 2004 Spanish League championship.
  • Ilievski is 1 steal away from tying Willie Solomon for 20th place on the Euroleague Basketball career steals charts. Ilievsi enters Tuesday’s game with 153 career steals.
  • Sergi Vidal has not missed a free throw in his last eight games, making 17 consecutive from the line over that stretch.
Regal FC Barcelona
  • Big man Fran Vazquez has blocked a shot in 11 consecutive Euroleague games. He leads the Euroleague in blocked shots this season with 1.9 per game.
  • Guard Jaka Lakovic surpassed Luis Scola for fifth place on the Euroleague Basketball career scoring charts when he scored 20 in Game 3. Lakovic now has 2,072 career points and trails teammate Navarro by 4 points fro fourth place. CSKA Moscow’s J.R. Holden is third at 2,086.
  • Lakovic entered the top 10 on the Euroleague Basketball career steals charts after swiping 3 balls in Game 3. Lakovic is now ninth with 177 career steals.
  • Lakovic needs 3 more three-pointers to become the third person in Euroleague Basketball history to make 300 this decade. Teammate Gianluca Basile leads that list with 356 triples.
  • Guard Juan Carlos Navarro has made at least 1 three-pointer in 12 straight games.
  • Navarro has scored in double figures in 10 straight Euroleague games.
  • Navarro needs 6 more free throws to overtake Dejan Bodiroga for fifth place on the Euroleague Basketball career free throws made list. Navarro enters Thursday’s game with 438 career free throws.
  • Navarro has made 29 consecutive free throws over his last five games.
  • Forward Ersan Ilyasova is tied with Real Madrid’s Felipe Reyes and Axel Hervelle for the Quarterfinal Playoffs lead in rebounding with 8.3 per game.
  • Barcelona boasts four players in the top 10 on the Euroleague Basketball career scoring charts. Juan Carlos Navarro is ranked fourth, Jaka Lakovic fifth, Gianluca Basile seventh and David Andersen eighth.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Euroleague.net

Quotes Head Coaches

IVANOVIC, DUSKO
Tau Ceramica
"This game is the most important game of the season so far. We will need to play with patience and without nerves. Patience is not the same as playing slow basketball, but being able to find the best pace of the game and knowing when to play longer possessions. I think we will have a different game on Thursday, so we must be ready to face some surprises. We cannot think of going back to Barcelona for the fifth game now, there is one only game, and it’s on Thursday. We are preparing the game counting on Navarro playing, but all the players of their roster are good enough and can play great basketball. We must focus on our game and stay strong mentally. We can win or we can lose, but I’m sure that this team will stand up and keep fighting until the end."

Players

MCDONALD, WILL
Tau Ceramica
"We want to win the next game and forget about possibly playing a fifth one. We all are comitted to it. I think we are able to win both here in Vitoria and in Barcelona, but the sooner the better. I think we learned a lot from the defeat we took in the second game, which taught us that we cannot relax a single second against a team like Barcelona. The fact that Navarro also might miss the fourth game is something that you never know whether it will be good or not. When he's not on court, other players take over and they are pretty good, too."
LAKOVIC, JAKA
Regal FC Barcelona
"It's as if the series were at 1-0, the same as our last home game against them. In that second game played in Barcelona, we showed what we can do and now we have to do it again. What's needed is for us to be patient and give our best. We know that we have good shooters, but we have to try other options to defeat Tau. They are a very strong and aggressive team, and yesterday they didn't give us many inside options. Teh problem is that Tau is a team with a lot of experience whose players have been together a number of years. They know each other perfectly and they know how to play the important minutes, which was the case in Tuesday's game."
Jaka Lakovic - Regal FC BarcelonaRegal FC Barcelona stunned Tau Ceramica 63-84 Thursday on the road at the Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria, Spain, to tie their best-of-five Quarterfinal Playoffs series at 2-2 and force a fifth and deciding game in Barcelona next week. Barcelona started the third quarter with a 0-10 run, finished it with an 0-11 charge and scored a playoff record 30 overall in the period as the visitors took control and never looked back. Jaka Lakovic led Barcelona with 15 points and 5 assists, while Juan Carlos Navarro, who missed game 3 with a leg injury, started and recorded 11 points and 4 assists. Ginaluca Basile had 13 points. That guard trio combined for 9 three-pointers for Barca. David Andersen and Ersan Ilyasova scored 11 each and helped inside as the visiots outrebounded Tau 26-38. League-leadign scorer Igor Rakocevic paced Tau with 21 points and 4 assists. Pete Mickeal added 14 points and Tiago Splitter had 12 in defeat.

Igor Rakocevic - Tau CeramicaBasile opened fire with a huge three and followed it with a step-back jumper for an early 2-5 Barca lead, as the visitors used a zone defense to protect the paint. The hosts struggled on offense, as only Rakocevic was able to produce. Even though Navarro didn’t score, he created space for his teammates Lakovic and Fran Vazquez, who maintained a 5-9 edge for Barcelona after four minutes. But when Splitter joined the game, Tau seemed to react and tied the score at 11-11 with three minutes to go behind two of his buckets. Although Lakovic put Barcelona ahead with a three pointer, Rakocevic came to the rescue and gave Tau its first lead hitting back-to back triples for a 19-16 edge entering the last minute. One free throw by Andersen closed the first period with a 19-17 Tau lead.

Rakocevic remained hot after the break, hitting his fourth triple and extending Tau’s margin to 23-17. Barcelona reacted quickly, bringing Navarro back into the game to guard Pablo Prigioni, as Victor Sada matched up with Rakocevic. Ilyasova took over inside, but found an immediate answer from Will McDonald as Tau retained the lead. Rakocevic headed the bench for a breather while Ilyasova and Navarro provided back-to-back layups that forced an urgent timeout by Tau head coach Dusko Ivanovic in an attempt to find the right answer against Barcelona’s defensive switching scheme. But Tau looked dizzy without Rakocevic on court, which was exploited by Lakovic and Ilyasova to make it a 1-point game midway through the second period. The game turned into an exciting showdown, as every move by each team was immediately responded by the other. Tau tried to pick up the pace, but Barcelona prevented the hosts from escaping thanks to Ilyasova and Lakovic, who tied the game 35-35 with two minutes to go in the half. Rakocevic and Mickeal stepped up at that point, combining for 6 points that restored a 6-point Tau margin entering the last minute. Barcelona didn’t panic though, as a three by Lakovic and a buzzer-beating tip-in by Ilyasova sent the game to halftime at 41-40.

Roger Grimau - Regal FC BarcelonaBarcelona showed up strong after intermission. Basile hit his third triple on the first possession and Vazquez added 4 in a row as Tau called timeout. But the drought continued for the hosts, as Navarro beat the shot-clock buzzer with three right after that for a 41-50 Barcelona lead. Splitter finished the nightmare with a layup, but he missed 3 free throws in a row that prevented Tau from getting back to the game. Lakovic punished Tau with another three for a double-digit margin, 43-53. Barcelona found what it needed, a comfortable margin that allowed its players to decide whether to run or not, taking over the flow of the game. Navarro came up big then, hitting back-to-back triples to extend the gap even more, as Daniel Santiago set the score at 47-61 with a jumper. Rakocevic showed up then, hitting 3 consecutive free throws, followed by Mickeal who brought Tau within 54-61 with two minutes to go in the period. The comeback ended thanks to Andersen, who sparked a 0-9 run of his own by hitting a turnaround jumper, a triple, a couple of free throws and a buzzer-beating hook shot to give Barcelona a 54-70 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Both teams remained scoreless for the first three minutes, which benefited Barcelona the most. Although guests were unable to hit their shots, offensive rebounding allowed several second-chance offenses that grinded the gears of Tau. Barcelona started playing long possessions, looking for smooth ball circulation and taking last-second shots. Roger Grimau added 4 in a row to make it a 20-point lead, 54-74, with less than six minutes to go. Tau was totally shocked, unable to find answers neither in offense nor in defense. Teletovic ended a six-minute scoring drought with a single free throw, followed by a hook shot by Splitter that reduced difference to 57-74, but it was too late to believe in a comeback. With the outcome in no doubt for the guests, Barcelona spent the last minutes avoiding big risks and waiting for the clock to end. Even though Tau got a few opportunities to make the margin smaller, nerves, exhaustion and anxiety prevented the hosts even from getting a less painful disadvantage. A monster dunk by Vazquez capped an extraordinary second half for Barcelona, who sent the playoff series back to Barcelona for a do-or-die Game 5.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Natxo Mendaza, Vitoria
Referees: ZAVLANOS, NIKOLAOS (GRE), BELOSEVIC, ILIJA (SRB), RYZHYK, BORYS (UKR), SAINT AUBERT, FABRICE (FRA)
Attendance: 9700
By Quarter1234
Tau Ceramica1922139
Regal FC Barcelona17233014
End of Quarter1234
Tau Ceramica19415463
Regal FC Barcelona17407084
Head coach: IVANOVIC, DUSKO
Tau Ceramica
# Player Min Pts 2FG
M-A
3FG
M-A
FT
M-A
Rebounds As St To Bl Fouls PIR
O D T Fv Ag Cm Rv
5 PRIGIONI, PABLO 29:09   0/1 0/2   1 4 5 3   2     1 3 5
6 ILIEVSKI, VLADO 10:51 2 1/1 0/1             1     2   -2
8 RAKOCEVIC, IGOR 34:41 21 2/6 4/7 5/5   3 3 4 1 3   1 2 7 23
9 VIDAL, SERGI 22:53 9 2/5 0/3 5/6 1 1 2   1 1       4 8
11 ESLAVA, ARIEL DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
12 TELETOVIC, MIRZA 25:35 1   0/5 1/2 2   2 1   2     2 1 -5
19 SAN EMETERIO, FERNANDO 4:45                   1         -1
21 SPLITTER, TIAGO 26:52 12 6/10   0/3 2 4 6 2 1 2 3 1 3 4 15
33 MICKEAL, PETE 32:06 14 5/8 0/1 4/4 3 3 6   1 2 1   3 4 17
42 BARAC, STANKO DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
45 MCDONALD, WILL 13:08 4 2/3     1   1     1     4   -1
Team             1 1               1
Totals 200:00 63 18/34 4/19 15/20 10 16 26 10 4 15 4 2 17 23 60
52.9% 21.1% 75%
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Head coach: PASCUAL, XAVI
Regal FC Barcelona
# Player Min Pts 2FG
M-A
3FG
M-A
FT
M-A
Rebounds As St To Bl Fouls PIR
O D T Fv Ag Cm Rv
5 BASILE, GIANLUCA 19:43 13 2/3 3/5     2 2 1 1 2   1 4   7
6 BARRETT, ANDRE DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8 TRIAS, JORDI DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9 BARTON, LUBOS 13:12 2 1/3     3 2 5 1 2       2   6
10 LAKOVIC, JAKA 33:52 15 3/5 3/5     2 2 5 1 5   1 1 3 15
11 NAVARRO, JUAN CARLOS 23:26 11 1/3 3/9     1 1 4 2 1     2 2 9
13 ANDERSEN, DAVID 20:30 11 3/6 1/3 2/2 1 5 6     2     3 2 9
17 VAZQUEZ, FRAN 22:32 8 4/6     1 1 2 1     1   3   7
21 ILYASOVA, ERSAN 19:32 11 4/6 1/3   3 5 8   1       2 3 17
24 SADA, VICTOR 6:08   0/1     1   1 1 1       2    
25 SANTIAGO, DANIEL 17:18 4 2/7 0/1   2 1 3   1 2 1 2 4 3 -2
44 GRIMAU, ROGER 23:47 9 3/3   3/4 2 2 4 2 2         4 20
Team           4   4               4
Totals 200:00 84 23/43 11/26 5/6 17 21 38 15 11 12 2 4 23 17 92
53.5% 42.3% 83.3%
This game is not yet played

Head Coaches

IVANOVIC, DUSKO
Tau Ceramica
"We saw two games in one tonight. We played well in the first one, we managed to build a good advantage but we lost it too quickly because of their offensive rebounding and some defensive mistakes. They took a 10-point margin at the beginning of the third and we ran out of energy at that point. I recognize it’s their merit, but I have to say that our soft approach allowed them to exploit their big talent. We are going to Barcelona to win. I have great confidence in my team and the work we are doing so far. It doesn’t matter if the fifth game is going to be played in 72 or in 48 hours.
PASCUAL, XAVI
Regal FC Barcelona
"We are very happy tonight. We managed to win here and recover the home-court advantage. We expected a long playoff and this is what happened. The fifth game is going to be a final. The game was balanced in the first half, but our approach in the beginning of the second was pretty good. We knew that the team that was able to get a good offensive flow would have better chances. We played solid defense in the second half and the 30 points we scored in the third quarter were also very important. I have to mention and congratulate out medical staff today. They did a great job to get Navarro back. Tau is the best team in Europe running the court, so stopping them is a key factor in every game we play against them. The pressure is at 50% for each team now."

Players

PRIGIONI, PABLO
Tau Ceramica
"This defeat was a very tough one. We had a very bad third quarter. They hit almost everything and opened a big gap that was impossible for us to handle. We felt very uncomfortable, without energy. We found ourselves very far from coming back at that point. Now it's time to rest as much as we can, stay calm and look forward to the next game, which will be a great fight."
LAKOVIC, JAKA
Regal FC Barcelona
"We were very accurate in the third quarter and then, thanks to great control of the pace of the game, we managed to grab the win. The fifth game is going to be very difficult. I don't think they are going to come to Barcelona with less morale or less confident in their chances to win. Both teams are well prepared and ready to face tough situations. The home-court advantage won’t be too important now. We showed in this playoff series that everyone can win on the road. That's the mentality we need to have in the last game."
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