Regal FC Barcelona is the 2010 Euroleague champion! Barca downed Olympiacos 86-68 in the final before a packed house at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy in the French capital to win its second Euroleague crown. Juan Carlos Navarro, the only remaining player from Barcelona’s 2003 Euroleague-winning squad, was named Final Four MVP after leading the charge with 21 points. Pete Mickeal added 14 and Fran Vazquez set a title game record with 4 blocked shots as the Barcelona defense limited the top scoring team in the Euroleague this season to 68 points, matching its season low. The Reds never led again after a 5-6 start as the Barcelona defense held Olympiacos below 20 points in all four quarter. Ricky Rubio added 9 points for the freshly crowned champs, led by head coach Xavi Pascual. Olympiacos, which beat Barcelona for its only Euroleague title in 1997, got 15 points from Josh Childress. Linas Kleiza added 13 points, Theo Papaloukas had 12 and new Euroleague MVP Milos Teodosic was held to 10. Barca set two new Euroleague Final records in the process also: the 18 assists mark beats the previous record of 15, and the 12 of 28 from downtown breaks the 10 of 24 that CSKA Moscow got in 2006.
Teodosic, who was sick on Saturday, drew a foul on Navarro to open the game, before Kleiza nailed a corner three-pointer. Rubio didn't doubt, when a long offensive rebound reached him, to drill a shorter jumper. When Mickeal hit an open triple, the Barca fans roared. But just as soon, Teodosic answered with a jumper for a 5-5 tie after just 90 seconds. Childress got denied a dunk by Boni Ndong, but drew the foul, hitting 1 of 2 free throws for an Olympiacos lead. It lasted only until Ndong downed a jump hook. Ndong's second foul forced him to sit, but his replacement, Vazquez, quickly dished to Mickeal for a dunk. Next, when Navarro stepped back for a triple, Barcelona led 12-8 after five minutes. Sofoklis Schortsanitis inside and Teodosic driving calmed Olympiacos, but the Reds couldn't stop Navarro from making it 14-10 on a fastbreak. The scoring rhythm didn't stop, though. Teodosic answered from downtown, and was met with an answer from the same distance by Teodosic at 17-13, when a TV timeout was all that could stop the non-stop pace. With crisp passing, Vazquez found Mickeal for a basket-plus-foul before he rejected Ioannis Bourousis at the other end. Vazquez remained a factor as he drew a foul from Bourousis underneath and sank 2 free throws. Kleiza tried to power his way to the rim, but met the Vazquez wall and came up holding his side. Mickeal scored at the other end to put Barca up by double figures. Childress rescued the Reds with a three-pointer, but the momentum ended as Kleiza committed an offensive foul and took a seat on the bench. Victor Sada scored his first basket of the Final Four and Gianluca Basile fed Terence Morris for a two-handed slam that ignited the Barcelona faithful. Papaloukas weaved his way into the paint to make it 28-19 after 10 minutes.
Sada fought for an offensive rebound that lead to a Basile triple and a 12-point Barcelona gap. Bourousis beat the 24-second clock with a three-pointer, however Vazquez scored in the paint. Bourousis was more confident at this point and found a way through Vazquez to score inside. The Barca big man answered at the other end, but Bourousis then drew a foul from Vazquez and he went out for a rest. Nikola Vujcic came off the bench for the Reds and scored quickly. A Vujcic steal then led to a Papaloukas fastbreak slam that narrowed the score to 35-28 as the Olympiacos fans sang through the TV timeout. The stop in play aided Barcelona as Navarro came back and drilled a triple and Vazquez came back and rejected Vujcic. The momentum switched when Bourousis rose to swat a a Navarro three-point try and Papaloukas duked Vazquez for a basket down low. Erazem Lorbek hit back for Barca with a three and Rubio took the ball away from Bourousis for a layup and a 43-30 lead. Bourousis tipped in a Vujcic miss, but after missed free throws at both ends, Navarro struck from afar to stretch the lead to 14. Papaloukas scored with another crafty move, but Navarro went to the line an added to the Barcelona tally. After Rubio knocked the ball away from Bourousis, Childress robbed Rubio and fed Bourousis for a slam. The Reds stopped Barca on its final possession and Childress missed a tough three at the buzzer, leaving Barcelona a 47-36 lead at the half.
After playing just 49 seconds in the first half, Patrick Beverley started the second, stripped Rubio once and caused another. Baskets by Schortsanitis and Childress got the Olympiacos fans going at full volume. A Mickeal jumper nearly three minutes into third quarter were Barca’s first points of the second half. Kleiza spun inside to make it 49-42. Navarro drained a second-chance three that put the Barca lead back at 10 only to see Childress answer with a three from the corner. The Reds were energized with helter-skelter defense, a Childress block and a Papaloukas penetration basket, but when Ndong dunked on Bourousis, the Olympiacos fans grew quiet. When Sada almost lost the ball and got it in time to beat the 24-second clock with a triple, Barca was on top 58-47. Then Ndong sank a mid-range jumper to cap an 8-0 Barca burst. Navarro upped the lead to 14 with a wild scoop over Beverley as the 24-second clock sounded. Navarro went for the kill with a three, but missed and Kleiza scored at the other end. Morris tacked 2 free throws onto the Barcelona lead and Papaloukas’s jumper in the closing seconds missed, leaving Regal FCB with a 64-50 lead heading into the last quarter of the season.
A Rubio steal and layup gave Barcelona its biggest lead yet, 16 points. Schortsanitis got 2 back from the line, however Morris climbed high to swat Big Sofo’s next shot. A Mickeal jumper put Barca back in the saddle. More strong defense from Morris on one end, a big three for the big man at the other. Kleiza tied to make something happen and things got testy when Teodosic and Mickeal exchanged words and were slapped with double technical fouls. Childress converted a basket-plus-foul, but every Barcelona basket at this point was a major blow to the Reds’ dwindling hopes. Lorbek scored over Papaloukas as the Barcelona fans continued in song. Papaloukas’s basket was matched by Sada free throws. Then a Kleiza free throw for a Morris free throw. With less than three minutes, Olympiacos continued to fight and a Teodosic three elicited cheers from the Reds’ section. However when Morris rejected Kleiza in transition, the outcome was getting clear. Kleiza fouled out and then was called for technical foul for saying something at the referee. Navarro sank the free throws, giving him 21 points, and with 1:23 to play, Pascual put in Jaka Lakovic and Jordi Trias to the delight of the fans. Basile got everyone on their feet with a triple and the Barca bench danced the rest of the game away, led by Rubio standing on the advertising boards waiting to erupt at the final buzzer.
Sunday, May 9, 2010