A duel between two unbeaten teams in Group D on Thursday fell to the home side as Winterthur FC Barcelona defeated Olympiacos 76-72 to take exclusive hold of first place halfway through the Top 16. Barcelona dominated most of the game and even had double-digit leads, but Olympiacos never surrendered and in the end managed to trim the deficit for a possible tiebreak situation in the future. Now Barcelona's record improved to 3-0 record, while Olympiacos drops to 2-1. Juan Carlos Navarro, who was presented the award for the MVP of January before the game started, and Gianluca Basile led the winners with 20 points each. Basile scored 18 of those 20 points in the second quarter. Michalis Kakiouzis also added 16 points behind 5 of 5 two-point shots for Barcelona. For Olympiacos, Tyus Edney was the engine once more with his 20 points and Sofoklis Schortsanitis followed with 10 points.
A packed house at Palau Blaugrana roared as Rodrigo De La Fuente got going Barcelona started by scoring in transition after Jordi Trias registered a blocked shot. Nikos Barlos answered and Andrija Zizic soon scored free throws against his former team for a 4-4 tie. Trias scored underneath and added a basket-plus-foul for a 9-4 Barcelona lead. The Reds used a two-on-two situation to score and a turnover by Denis Marconato allowed Olympiacos to tie the game again, 10-10. Edney scored twice from the line to put the visitors ahead for the first time, 10-12, but Navarro replied with a three-point play for a 13-12 again. A loose ball ended in Gregor Fucka's hands for a dunk while the hosts switched to zone defense. Olympiacos used that to play easy in offense and jump ahead for a 15-18 edge, but Barcelona regrouped and free throws by Basile and a triple by Navarro capped a 9-2 run for the hosts, until Schortsanitis brought the Reds within 24-22 after 10 minutes.
Basile had all points, including two triples, in a 8-0 opening run for Winterthur FCB. Edney scored for the Reds after almost 3 minutes for a 32-24 score. The hosts insisted in long shots but the ball didn't go in now, and Olympiacos used that to pull within 32-28 with Renaldas Seibutis' drive and layup. Barcelona was more efficient when playing fast and easy but Quincy Lewis scored the guests' first triple after 6 attempts to make it 37-31. Basile was up to his 13th point in the quarter with free throws and a new triple. Edney was still Olympiacos' referent in offense but Manolis Papamakarios soon stepped up with a new triple to trim the guests' deficit to 44-36. Basile was on fire and with a new triple he closed the second quarter with a 47-36 score and 18 points for him in the period.
A triple by Manolis Papamakarios didn't impede that Barcelona made it a double-digit lead at 49-39. Olympiacos regrouped but the pace in offense was slow now but Trias lifted a layup for a 53-40 lead. Georgios Printezis appeared for 5 straight Olympiacos points but defenses definitely took over and for awhile no points arrived from either side. Edney scored again to make it 55-49 in minute 28. Schortsanitis intimidated the local attackers with his paint presence but Basile stole the ball on the following play and Kakiouzis stepped up with a triple from the corner that closed the third quarter with Barcelona ahead 58-51.
Schortsanitis pushed inside and made a layup to open the final quarter. Edney soon joined him to make the score 58-55 in less than a minute. Navarro finally replied for Barcelona, but the hosts picked up turnovers and Olympiacos used them to stay close. Navarro lengthened his personal scoring run to 8 points with a triple and a rainbow shot to wake up the crowd and lift Barcelona up by 65-57. Edney and Roger Grimau traded baskets but Navarro was on fire now, blasting a new bomb from downtown to force an Olympiacos timeout with 70-59 on the scorebord. Andrija Zizic appeared for 4 points of his own for Olympiacos, before Roger saw Kakiouzis inside and fed him for basket. Lewis replied with his second three-pointer to make it 74-66 before Olympiacos switched to full-court press defense and, though there was not too much time left, Papamakarios found free throws to cut the deficit down to 4 points, which could help in future tie-break situations. But Barcelona took the night's real prize, a still-unbeaten record at the top of Group D.
Thursday, March 09, 2006