Regal FC Barcelona dominated SLUC Nancy 91-68 as it became one of the first teams to clinch a berth in the Top 16. With the win, head coach Xavi Pascual's men improved to 5-1 and remain tied with Montepaschi Siena and Panathinaikos for the top spot in Group B. Montepaschi, which is the only team to have beaten Barca this season, also clinched a Top 16 spot. At least one of those teams will fall next week when Barca visits the Greens. Barca beat Nancy for the second time this season using a well-balanced team effort. Six different players scored during an 18-2 run the bridged the third in fourth quarters as the hosts put the game away. Nancy hung tough for 25 minutes and tied the game at 49-49 in the third quarter, but had no answer for the home team's big charge. Nancy fell to 1-5 and faces a must-win contest if it hopes to reach the Top 16 when it hosts Asseco Prokom next week. Daniel Santiago led Barcelona with a season-high 20 points, David Andersen added followed with 16 points and 8 rebounds, which were also season highs, while Juan Carlos Navarro added 13 points and 6 assists, Ersan Ilyasova had 11 points and 8 rebounds, Lubos Barton scored 11 and Roger Grimau 10. Veteran big man Cyril Julian was the lone bright spot for Nancy with 17 points and 7 rebounds.
Nancy raced out to the lead on baskets by Steed Tchicambud and Ricardo Greer, but the hosts quickly regrouped. Santiago made his presence felt inside with three baskets on the next four possessions and Ilyasova added a triple for a 9-0 run. Ricardo Greer and Julian with a basket-plus-foul tied the game as Nancy dug in. Grimau and Ricardo Greer traded baskets, before Barca responded with a strong run. Grimau and Fran Vazquez scored inside to put the hosts ahead and Navarro extended the lead first with a pair of free throws and then with his trademark floater. Andersen added a bucket in the paint to complete a 10-0 charge that made it 23-14. Tchicambud and Navarro traded scores until Victor Samnick triple found himself open for a three that made it 25-19 after 10 minutes.
Andersen fired in a long jumper to open the second period, but Amadou Aboukar Zaki’s follow-up slam sent a message that Nancy's confidence was growing. Samnick added a mid-range pull-up and Aboukar Zaki positioned himself for another bucket as the gap closed to 2 points. Led by a fresh Barton, Barcelona increased its defensive intensity and came away with a pair of fastbreak layups. John Cox came in for the Cougars to reset the attack and scored to make it 31-28. Andersen and Barton increased the lead to 8 despite a Jeff Greer steal and layup. Navarro and Jeff Greer traded threes, before Julian cut the Nancy deficit to 4 on the offensive glass. However Barton capped a strong second period with a three-point play to make it 44-37 at halftime.
Michel Morandais scored for Nancy as the second half began, but Barton came right back for a three for the hosts. Julian and Santiago traded hoops inside, but Julain continued to battle and with the aid of Samnick closed the gap to 2. Then Morandais hit a long jumper to cap a 0-8 push that knotted the game at 49-49. Navarro floated in for a basket to put the hosts back on top, but Nancy’s spirit was keeping it in the game. Santiago stuffed an offensive rebound through the hoop and Ilyasova made his presence felt on the defensive end as Barcelona slowly rebuilt its lead. Julian stepped outside for a long jumper, but Andersen matched him and Victor Sada went coast-to-coast for a circus shot that put the hosts up 5. And Grimau beat the buzzer for a triple that gave Barcelona its first double-digit lead, 62-51, heading into the fourth quarter.
Barcelona looked to put the game away as Ilyasova converted a three-point play and Navarro added a score to cap an 18-2 charge that made it 67-51. Cox tried to ignite something for Nancy, but Barca was in cruise control. Andersen scored on back-to-back possessions as the lead hit 18 and after a nice move by Samnick, Ilyasova hit from downtown and Santiago scored inside to make it push it further. Andersen brought the lead to 80-57 with a pair of free throws and it would later peak at 27 on a Gianluca Basile three as the closing minutes became extended garbage time with the final result a foregone conclusion.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008