Playoffs Round 5 - April 09, 2009 CET: 20:45 Local time: 20:45 - PALAU BLAUGRANA
PLAYOFFS, ROUND 5

Records

Ave.   Ave.
0-0 Final Four 0-0
1-2 Playoffs 2-1
5-1 Top 16 4-2
9-1 Regular Season 8-2
16-4 Overall 14-6

Referees

Crew Chief
VOREADIS, LAZAROS, Greece
Referee
ARTEAGA, JUAN CARLOS, Spain
Umpire
HIERREZUELO, DANI, Spain

Team Stats

Ave.   Ave.
81.4 Points 87.5
34.5 Rebounds 32.9
10.0 O. Rebounds 8.9
24.5 D. Rebounds 24.0
15.2 Assists 14.6
8.2 Steals 7.0
4.6 Blocks 3.4
12.3 Turnovers 13.0
55.3 % 2PT 56.7 %
37.9 % 3PT 41.1 %
81.1 % FT 77.2 %
96.4 Index 98.6

Player Stats

Ave.   Ave.
14.6 / Navarro Points 18.4 / Rakocevic
7.2 / ILYASOVA, ERSAN Rebounds 5.6 / Mickeal
2.0 / Vazquez OR 1.8 / MCDONALD, WILL
5.3 / ILYASOVA, ERSAN DR 4.5 / Mickeal
3.8 / Navarro Assists 4.4 / PRIGIONI, PABLO
1.4 / Navarro Steals 1.6 / PRIGIONI, PABLO
1.9 / Vazquez Blocks 1.6 / SPLITTER, TIAGO
2.0 / Navarro Turnovers 2.5 / Rakocevic
80.8 % / Barton 2PT 73.8 % / TELETOVIC, MIRZA
54.1 % / Basile 3PT 52.3 % / Vidal
92.4 % / Navarro FT 89.5 % / Rakocevic
15.4 / Navarro Index 17.2 / Rakocevic

THE TAKE

The last remaining ticket to the 2009 Euroleague Final Four will be decided on Thursday when Regal FC Barcelona hosts Tau Ceramica in Game 5 of their best-of-five Quarterfinal Playoffs series. It has been an incredible series this far, with Tau taking the home-court advantage by winning Game 1 in Barcelona. Tau tried to clinch the series at home last week, but Barca romped 63-84 in Game 4 in Vitoria to bring the series back home for the decider. Since Game 1, the series has been played on Barca’s terms, as head coach Xavi Pascual’s men have held Tau, the top-scoring team in the competition at 87.5 points per game, to 62, 69 and 63 points. Heading into the series, Tau had scored at least 70 points in every game this season. Whether Tau can get its offense going and how its outside shooters perform will be central themes in the game. Barcelona should be at full strength after leading scorer Juan Carlos Navarro returned to action in Game 4 with 11 points and 4 assists. Tau will be shorthanded inside after losing reserve center Stanko Barac to a broken foot, though he had not played at all in the series. Barca has controlled the paint thus far, with the quartet of Ersan Ilyasova, Fran Vazquez, David Andersen and Daniel Santiago proving to be a handful for Tau’s Tiago Splitter, Will McDonald and Mirza Teletovic. Ilyasova had double-doubles in each of the first two games, Vazquez has made an impact with his athleticism and shot-blocking ability and Andersen scored all the points in a 0-9 run at the end of the third quarter in Game 4 as Barca wrapped up the win. On the other hand, Splitter has experience in big games and rose to the occasion with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in the deciding game of the Quarterfinal Playoffs last season against Partizan Belgrade as Tau advanced to the Final Four. The matchup of guards features players with tremendous experience. Navarro and backcourt mate Jaka Lakovic are tied for the third most points on the Euroleague Basketball career charts, but face this season’s top scorer in Igor Rakocevic and another former All-Euroleague guard in Pablo Prigioni. Barca also boasts three-point ace Gianluca Basile and defensive ace Victor Sada, while Tau relies on veteran playmaker Vlado Ilievski off the bench. Swingmen Roger Grimau and Lubos Barton complete the home team’s rotation and Pete Mickeal and Sergi Vidal do the same for Tau. As the first four games have shown, there is no favorite in this series. Both teams will look to their experienced stars to step up, with Navarro and Andersen main options for Barcelona and Rakocevic and Splitter as Tau’s top weapons. All signs point to 40 thrilling minutes of action in a game full of passion, drama and intensity with a ticket to Berlin the grand prize for the winners.

GAME NOTES

Regal FC Barcelona
  • Big man Fran Vazquez has blocked a shot in 12 consecutive Euroleague games. He leads the Euroleague in blocked shots this season with 1.9 per game.
  • Guards Jaka Lakovic and Juan Carlos Navarro enter Game 5 of the playoffs tied for third place on the Euroleague Basketball career scoring charts with 2,087 points.
  • Lakovic entered the top 10 on the Euroleague Basketball career steals charts after swiping 3 balls in Game 3. Lakovic is now ninth with 178 career steals.
  • Navarro has made at least 1 three-pointer in 13 straight games.
  • Navarro has scored in double figures in 11 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 six games.
  • Barcelona boasts four players of the top 10 on the Euroleague Basketball career scoring charts. After Lakovic and Navarro, Gianluca Basile is ranked seventh and David Andersen eighth.
Tau Ceramica
  • Guard Igor Rakocevic leads the Euroleague in scoring this season with 18.4 points per game.
  • Forward Mirza 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.
  • Center Tiago Splitter rose to the occasion with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in the deciding game of the Quarterfinal Playoffs last season against Partizan Belgrade as Tau advanced to the Final Four.
  • 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 and Louis Bullock for 20th place on the Euroleague Basketball career steals charts. Ilievsi enters Game 5 with 153 career steals.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Euroleague.net

Quotes Head Coaches

PASCUAL, XAVIER
Regal FC Barcelona
"It is a big final after a balanced series, and I hope we are back to our best level to beat Tau again. The factors that will allow us to win will be tranquility, accuracy in the long-range shooting, controlling the rebounds and the feelings generated by the game itself. The fans at home always make us step up a notch in every game, but we must not forget what happened in Game 1, so we have to stay focused because probably they feel more liberated playing this one on the road. In the mental factor I think that we have gone from less to more and I think we have been a little better every game. After one week with no games in the series everybody feels like this is a final, so we just need concentration and to remain calm for the forty minutes."
IVANOVIC, DUSKO
Tau Ceramica
"I see no reason why we could have doubts before this game. We won two games so far, and we lost two. We know the reasons why we lost and the factors that made us win. We need to find and play our style, believe in ourselves and take care of our business, we have to focus on ourselves instead of doing it on them. It's tough to play when you are down by 7-8 points in these games, especially when the contender is as good as Barcelona, they know how to play and do it patiently. It will be difficult, but we have to prevent them from getting big margins. We need to play 40 minutes with the same intensity, without looking at the clock or the score and keep fighting until the last second."

Players

SADA, VICTOR
Regal FC Barcelona
"It has been a balanced series so far and we think that having the home court advantage in Game 5 could be decisive. We cannot think, however, that we will win Game 5 just because we have the home court advantage. We must do things well, just as we did in Game 4 in Vitoria or in Game 2 in Barcelona. We must be focused and if we play that way, I am sure we will be able to win."
VIDAL, SERGI
Tau Ceramica
"It's a do-or-die situation, but we know what we need to do to beat them and we will try to be as good as possible on Thursday at Palau Blaugrana. One of the things we must avoid is a poor start of the third quarter, like we did in the last game played in Vitoria. It's true they had great shooting, scoring a lot of points even against a good defense. But we cannot allow them to gain confidence because it makes it more difficult. We need to find our momentum, play with agressiveness and intensity, and keep it for the whole game. It could sound too usual, but one single play can decide a game, and not because it's a definitive one, but because it can change the trend and the whole game itself. That's why I think it's difficult to see two games that are similar."
Ersan Ilyasova - Regal FC BarcelonaBarcelona is going to Berlin! Regal FC Barcelona is back in the Final Four for the first time since 2006 after overwhelming Tau Ceramica 78-62 on Thursday before a sellout crowd at Palau Blaugrana in Game 5 to win their best-of-five Quarterfinal Playoff series 3-2. An incredible basketball atmosphere gave Barcelona an extra boost to stay alive in the competition and seek its second continental crown in Berlin from May 1 to 3. Barcelona will face defending champion CSKA Moscow in one of the semifinals. Panathinaikos and Olympiacos will meet in the other semifinal. Great early shooting and outstanding defense let Barcelona play ahead from tipoff to buzzer and manage leads that swelled to 21 points, 70-49, in the final quarter. Home-team hero Juan Carlos Navarro sparked the win with 16 first-half points on the way to 19 for the game, while Ersan Ilyasova matched him, pulled down 10 rebounds and dished 4 assists. Jaka Lakovic added 16 points for the winners. Tau got 19 points on 8-for-10 two-point shooting from Tiago Splitter, 14 more from Pete Mickeal and 10 from Igor Rakocevic. The game marked only the second time in European basketball history that a series has reached a fifth, do-or-die battle, and as in the 2001 finals, Tau lost both times. Navarro had 11 points in the first quarter as Barcelona raced ahead 23-15. A big three-pointer by Pablo Prigioni could only bring Tau within 40-30 at halftime. Tau got within 7 points twice after that, the last time midway through the third quarter, before David Andersen and Ilyasova combined on a 10-0 run that put the game out of reach. Andersen became the first player to reach the Final Four with four different teams - Kinder Bologna, Montepaschi Siena, CSKA Moscow and Barcelona.

Tiago Splitter - Tau CeramicaTau head coach Dusko Ivanovic sent out a surprise starter, swingman Fernando San Emeterio, who had played no more than 7 minutes in any previous game of the series. Lakovic got Barcelona going with a three-pointer and Will McDonald made a tip-in for Tau's first points. Navarro struck from downtown and then matched Splitter's jump hook with his trademark 'bomba' shot, a running one-hander. Tau controlled the boards but could not find open shots. Meanwhile, an unstoppable Navarro nailed a fade-away triple and Ilyasova joined Barcelona's three-point shootout by hitting on off the dribble as the shot clock expired. Like that, Barcelona owned a double-digit lead, 14-4. Tau called timeout and tried to open the court by bringing Mickeal and Teletovic on court. Tau's first highlight saw Prigioni pass behind his back to Splitter for a layup-plus-free throw. Navarro matched it, however, with one shot, an eight-meter blast from way above the top of the arc. Splitter responded with an up-and-under layup, then a fastbreak basket by Rakocevic brought Tau back to life at 17-11. Fran Vazquez joined Barcelona's scoring with a second-chance jump hook that Rakocevic answered with a layup in transition. Ilyasova and Lakovic added to Barcelona's lead with consecutive layups. And despite tough defense by the hosts, an acrobatic layup by Splitter, clearly Tau's go-to guy so far, trimmed the difference to 23-15 after 10 outstanding minutes.

Sergi Vidal came on for Tau sank a wide open three-pointer right at the start of the second quarter, while Gianluca Basile briefly left the game for Barcelona with a small injury. Vazquez sent the Barcelona fans to their feet with a layup-plus-free throw combination, but a five-meter jumper by Mickeal kept Tau as close as 26-20. The guests lacked concentration, especially on offense, while Navarro kept pouring in shots, the next one from way downtown - he was 4 for 6 in triples already - to keep Barcelona out of trouble at 29-20. Tau kept struggling to score as Victor Sada managed to prevent Prigioni from feeling comfortable. Navarro made free throws that Mickeal matched with a driving layup, soon adding foul shots to keep Tau as close as 31-24. Lakovic was next to the line and did not miss while Lubos Barton added a shot in traffic to make it an 11-point game, 35-24. Prigioni rescued Tau with a driving layup but Barton matched it with free throws on Mickeal's third foul. David Andersen buried a three-pointer for the highest lead yet, 40-27, as Tau could not get Rakocevic or Splitter involved now. Barcelona missed two tries to up the lead to 16 points, before Prigioni made the hosts pay with a seven-meter triple that fixed the halftime score at 10 points, 40-30.

Barcelona celebrates - Regal FC BarcelonaTeletovic downed a three-pointer immediately after the break but Navarro answered from downtown - his fifth triple - for a 43-33 score. Barcelona successfully locked the defensive boards with Vazquez and Ilyasova together on court. Vazquez dunked it over Splitter but Vidal silenced the crowd with a five-meter jumper. Ilyasova and Splitter traded layups while a jump hook by Vazquez made it a 12-point game, 49-37. Splitter provided a highlight with a wild dunk-and-foul, as Tau slowly improved its defense midway through the third quarter. Barcelona struggled to score now and tried to improve its offense with Andersen back on court. The guests missed several open shots, however, while Lakovic got the crowd involved with a power layup. Splitter scored again in the low post while free throws by Mickeal kept Tau in the game, 51-44. Barcelona quickly readjusted its defense, however, while Andersen buried back-to-back baseline jumpers - one from each side - to give Barcelona some fresh air, 55-44. Ilyasova banked in a triple that made it a 14-point game, 58-44, after 30 minutes.

The fourth quarter started just as the third period ended, as Ilyasova sank a three-pointer from the top of the key - exactly from the same spot - to break the game open, 61-44, after a 10-0 run. Rakocevic buried a close jumper but Ilyasova set the crowd on fire with an outstanding dunk. Tau tried to speed up the game tempo, as Rakocevic raced downcourt for a stop-and-pop jumper. Roger Grimau dunked it while Lakovic finished a long Barcelona offense with a corner triple that sealed the outcome, 68-49, with under 7 minutes to go. Tau called timeout but Barcelona was already running the clock down. Mickeal downed consecutive three-pointers but only managed to bring Tau within 70-55 with 4 minutes remaining. Everything was said and done up to this point, as Barcelona will keep fighting for Euroleague glory. Meanwhile, despite missing the Final Four for the first time since 2005, Tau had a bitter end to yet another fantastic Euroleague season.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Javier Gancedo, Barcelona
Referees: VOREADIS, LAZAROS (GRE), ARTEAGA, JUAN CARLOS (ESP), HIERREZUELO, DANI (ESP)
Attendance: 7685
By Quarter1234
Regal FC Barcelona23171820
Tau Ceramica15151418
End of Quarter1234
Regal FC Barcelona23405878
Tau Ceramica15304462
Head coach: PASCUAL, XAVIER
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 30:25     0/2   1 2 3 3 1       1   4
6 BARRETT, ANDRE DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8 TRIAS, JORDI DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9 BARTON, LUBOS 6:58 4 1/1   2/2   5 5       2     1 12
10 LAKOVIC, JAKA 33:55 16 4/7 2/8 2/3   1 1 3 1       3 6 14
11 NAVARRO, JUAN CARLOS 30:11 19 1/3 5/8 2/2       3 1 2     1 5 20
13 ANDERSEN, DAVID 21:52 7 2/6 1/2     3 3 1 1       1   6
17 VAZQUEZ, FRAN 17:23 9 4/7   1/1 2   2     1 1   4 1 5
21 ILYASOVA, ERSAN 26:20 19 5/9 3/3   4 6 10 4   1   1 1   26
24 SADA, VICTOR 6:05   0/1                     1 1 -1
25 SANTIAGO, DANIEL 14:12 2 1/2       2 2 1 1 3     4   -2
44 GRIMAU, ROGER 12:39 2 1/4     2 1 3 1 1     1 2 1 2
Team             3 3     2         1
Totals 200:00 78 19/40 11/23 7/8 9 23 32 16 6 9 3 2 18 15 87
47.5% 47.8% 87.5%
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: 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 30:35 6 1/2 1/4 1/2 1 1 2 3   1     3 2 4
6 ILIEVSKI, VLADO 9:25     0/1     1 1     1     1 2  
8 RAKOCEVIC, IGOR 28:33 10 5/10 0/2     3 3 2 4 3   1 1 2 9
9 VIDAL, SERGI 24:05 6 1/4 1/1 1/2 1 2 3 2   1     1 3 8
11 ESLAVA, ARIEL DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
12 TELETOVIC, MIRZA 29:12 5 1/1 1/5   1 4 5 2   1     2   5
19 SAN EMETERIO, FERNANDO 7:40     0/2           1 1     1   -3
21 SPLITTER, TIAGO 32:54 19 8/10   3/7 1 6 7 1   3 2 1 1 6 24
33 MICKEAL, PETE 24:14 14 2/4 2/3 4/4 2 5 7     3   1 3 3 14
45 MCDONALD, WILL 13:22 2 1/3 0/1   2 1 3     1     2   -1
Team           2   2   2           4
Totals 200:00 62 19/34 5/19 9/15 10 23 33 10 7 15 2 3 15 18 64
55.9% 26.3% 60%
This game is not yet played

Head Coaches

PASCUAL, XAVIER
Regal FC Barcelona
"First of all, I would like to congratulate all Barcelona fans. This win is for this club and for Palau Blaugrana. I always say it is our sanctuary and even goes beyond that. We managed to be better in all aspects of the game. We dominated the offensive boards in the first quarter and good ball circulation led to open shots. We managed to play with our big men and, when we did, we always had open shots. We were smart on offense and solid on defense, stopping their pick-and-roll situations and managing to slow down Igor Rakocevic. Tiago Splitter kept them in the game, but we won all four quarters and were the fair winners of this game. It took us eight months to reach this game, we played hard to have Game 5 at home and it all paid off right now. Looking back in the series, we played against two teams in Game 1: Tau Ceramica and us. That did not allow us to win or have our own identity. It all changed in Game 2, when we broke their winning streak against us. We have been better, psychologically speaking, and only injuries did not allow us to seal the series before. We played better and better, believing in our own chances. We are just two steps away from winning the Euroleague title, which is our goal. We are happy with the hard work we did so far, but this is not a success. Only titles give success. Above all, CSKA is used to winning and has been winning for a long time. Tau is at that level and it took us one game to play at their level. We won't have that chance in the Final Four."
IVANOVIC, DUSKO
Tau Ceramica
"The key to this game was Barcelona's strong start, with outstanding shot selection. That gave them a lot of confidence. I would like to congratulate Regal FC Barcelona because they played really well tonight. The losses in Games 2 and 4 cost us the series. Ersan Ilyasova played a great game with great shooting and helping with the offensive boards. He made the difference tonight. Best of luck to Barcelona in the Final Four. There will be no favorites in Berlin because all four teams are very balanced."

Players

LAKOVIC, JAKA
Regal FC Barcelona
"It feels good to be back in Final Four, but we have to keep our feet on the ground, because we didn't do anything yet. The key to this game was our defense and our concentration. We managed to play smart defense and I think we dominated the entire game. We also were the better team in the series, just because of our defense. That allowed us to be really focused on offense. Every turnover or steal or missed shot in this series was important. I want to say that I respect Tau a lot and the Final Four will miss their team after so many years in the event. It is a very big team that also deserves to be in the Final Four, but we managed to make it instead."
ILYASOVA, ERSAN
Regal FC Barcelona
"This is a very important win for us. We are now going to the Final Four and it is really exciting for all of us. We know we still have to win two more games to win the championship. We have to stay focused and do what we do all the time: play strong defense. Team defense was once again the key tonight. Everybody brought something to the court on defense, and most importantly, we played as a team. I try to do everything I can to help my team win games, offensively or defensively."
GRIMAU, ROGER
Regal FC Barcelona
"We worked well in this game and I don't know if the sense of superiority we had was seen outside the court. We managed to increase our lead little by little and managed to win the game. There are a lot of basketball fans in Barcelona, this is much more than a football club. I am a big Barcelona fan myself and was a bit nervous for what may happen before the game, but we worked well throughout the week and managed to make it to the Final Four."
VIDAL, SERGI
Tau Ceramica
"We played for a very big goal, which was making it to the Final Four again, but we couldn't do it. Nothing went right for us, and Barcelona was the best team on the floor tonight. They played better, and even when we tried to get back in the game, we didn't manage to do it because of turnovers and missed shots. Things like this happen, and now we must focus on the Spanish League."
PRIGIONI, PABLO
Tau Ceramica
"There is nothing much to say. Congratulations to Barcelona because they played at a very high level with outstanding shot selection. There is little to be said, just to wish them success in Berlin. We have to focus in the Spanish League from now on and face those games as a new challenge for us. It has been a long time since a team has won consecutive Spanish League titles. We must bounce back from this loss, wish them luck and go for the Spanish League title. They played well in the beginning and we struggle sometimes when we are behind in the scoreboard. We stayed in the game, but did not feel comfortable."
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