AXA F.C. Barcelona won its first road game this season and moved nearer the Group C leaders by rolling past Lottomatica Roma 65-74 on Thursday in the Italian capital. Barcelona improved to 4-2 and could share second place before the week ends. Roma fell to 1-5 and now shares last place with Brose Baskets Bamberg. A virtuoso first-half performance from guard Gianluca Basile helped build a lead that Barcelona would not surrender thereafter. He made a pair of three-pointers on his way to 14 points by halftime and 15 for the game. Mario Kasun led Barcelona in scoring with 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting. Jaka Lakovic added 11 points for Barcelona, which outrebounded Roma 37-23, while Jordi Trias came off the bench for 10 points and a game-high 9 rebounds. Erazem Lorbek led Roma with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
Barcelona went on a 1-9 run to open the game and was up 5-13 by the time that Basile had drilled his second jump shot, this one from three-point range. After Roberto Gabini scored to close the gap to 13-7 for Roma, Kasun and Lorbek traded baskets. Barcelona then finished the quarter on a 0-7 run with Pepe Sanchez and Alex Acker scoring inside the arc and Basile burying his second three-pointer for a 9-22 lead at the end of one quarter.
It got worse for Roma at the start of the second quarter, with Sanchez connecting from long range and Basile hitting a jumper as the visitors seemed fully in command at 11-27. Then, Gregor Fucka entered the game for the hosts and helped trigger a revival. He scored down low and Erik Daniels followed with a three-point play to make it 16-27. The outstanding Basile, a former player of Roma head coach Jasmin Repesa, nailed another jump shot and Kasun followed with a score down low to restore the 15-point Barcelona lead. Another Basile jumper and a tap-in by Fran Vazquez stretched the Barcelona lead to 35-18. Roma, buoyed by a 10,000-strong home crowd, turned up the intensity and finished the second quarter stronger. Fucka, also going up against his former team, hit Roma's first three-pointer with in the game's 16th minute to spark an 8-0 run. After he split a pair of free throws, Lorbek scored down low with a hook shot and Roko Leni-Ukic, another former Barcelona player, went in for a layup. Barcelona could get nothing going offensively, while Lorbek's three-pointer extended the surge to 11 unanswered points to pull Roma within 31-37 at the half.
Jon Stefansson started the second half for the hosts by draining a wide-open three-pointer, cutting the difference to 34-37. Kasun grabbed an Acker miss and dunked, then added free throws. Barcelona widened the gap further by converting a steal with Jordi Trias scoring down low. Jaka Lakovic and Ukic traded three-pointers as Barcelona's lead held at 39-46. Acker banked in a one-handed runner and then Kasun, after picking off a pass, went to the other end and scored to make it 39-51 and provoke a Roma timeout. When play resumed, Lakovic hit another three-ball, but Lorbek scored and then came up with a steal and passed ahead to Hawkins for a slam dunk to cut the difference to 45-53. Trias, playing valuable minutes, tapped in a missed three-pointer and scored inside before a jumper by Vazquez pushed the lead into double digits at 45-59. Allan Ray hit a three-pointer and Ukic dished to a cutting Lorbek for the final points of the third quarter, but Barcelona still commanded a 50-60 advantage.
Ray started the final quarter with a triple from the corner, but a Lakovic one-handed runner ended the Roma run and took the Barcelona lead to 53-64. Stefansson came up with a loose offensive rebound and connected from the baseline for Roma before Jacopo Giachetti checked into the game and hit a jumper to close the gap to 58-65 and prompt Barcelona coach Dusan Ivkovic to call a timeout. Roma had a chance to draw closer, but Ukic penetrated into the lane and had the ball knocked away. Barcelona punished that with Kasun scoring off a Trias miss for a 66-57 lead. Ukic drove hard to the basket and scored with a left-handed lay-up in traffic to draw his team within 7 points with 2:30 remaining, but Lakovic went to the other end and with the shot clock winding down, hit another three-pointer for a 10-point lead. Roma didn't give up. After two Giachetti free throws and a miss by Barcelona, Fucka's baseline jumper made it 63-69. With an opportunity to make it even closer, Stefansson was off target and Barcelona rebounded and held on for victory.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007