Winterthur FC Barcelona finished the Top 16 in style by downing mighty Panathinaikos 87-66 in both teams' final game in Group F on Wednesday night. Both teams not had already qualified for the Quarterfinal Playoffs, but also knew their final standings in advance. Panathinaikos finished first with a 5-1 record and will face Dynamo Moscow in the best-of-three playoff series, while Barcelona was second at 4-2 and goes against Unicaja for a Final Four spot. Fran Vazquez led the winners with 14 points on 5-of-5 two-pointers. Roger Grimau added 12, Juan Carlos Navarro and Gianluca Basile each had 11 while Jordi Trias scored 10 points for Barcelona. Dejan Tomasevic had 18 points on 6-of-6 shooting for Panathinaikos while Mike Batiste and Milos Vujanic each added 10. Vazquez and Trias fueled a game-breaking 27-4 run that bridged between both halves to break the game open, 52-35, midway through the third quarter. Panathinaikos opted to rest its main players for the Greek Cup final this weekend and Barcelona did not find much trouble to add yet another Top 16 win.
Tomasevic got Panathinaikos going with back-to-back layups, as Barcelona went scoreless in the opening 4 minutes. Meanwhile, Demos Dikoudis worked well in the low post for a 0-6 Panathinaikos lead. Barcelona could not find its rhythm while Becirovic capped a 0-7 opening run with a free throw. Navarro finally got Barcelona going with free throws but Dimitris Diamantidis erased it with a turnaround jumper. Navarro took over with his trademark "bomba" but once again Diamantidis answered with a driving layup. Trias came off the bench and stepped up with a follow-up layup. Dikoudis shined with a driving basket that Denis Marconato matched with free throws. Batiste scored on a quick Panathinaikos transition but another layup by Navarro got Barcelona within 10-15. Batiste and Navarro traded jumpers while Batiste fired in one from downtown for a 12-20 Panathinaikos edge. An easy basket by Rodrigo De La Fuente fixed the score at 14-20 after 10 minutes.
Batiste dunked it right at the start of the second quarter but Trias scored in the paint for a 16-22 Barcelona deficit. Dikoudis shined with a put-back layup and Batiste added a power basket to give the Greens its first double-digit lead, 16-26. Trias and Vazquez got the crowd involved with back-to-back dunks. Sani Becirovic and Basile traded triples while Jaka Lakovic got Barcelona within 25-29. Batiste took over with a jump hook but Basile answered from downtown to get the hosts even closer, 28-31. Vazquez shined with a wild dunk-and-foul to tie the game, 31-31. Trias scored coming of fthe baseline while Grimau capped a 10-0 Barcelona run with a driving layup, good for a 35-31 Barcelona lead. Tomasevic hit free throws but a hyperactive Grimau bettered that with a three-pointer to make the Greens call timeout at 38-33. Tomasevic scored inside but Basile insisted from downtown to give Barcelona a 41-35 halftime margin.
Basile buried a long jumper right after the break and Vazquez added a jump hook to give Barcelona its first double-digit margin, 45-35. Roko-Leno Ukic found his first basket on a quick transition while Grimau added free throws to make it a 14-point game, 49-35. Panathinaikos called timeout but kept struggling to score. Meanwhile, Vazquez dunked it to cap an 11-0 run that broke the game open, 52-35. Vujanic stepped up with a five-meter jumper and added free throws to ignit the Greens' comeback. Panathinaikos had improved its defense, but it kept finding troubles to score in the other end. As such, both teams went scoreless for 2 minutes until Robertas Javtokas and Kostas Tsartsaris hit free throws. Vujanic capped a 0-9 run with a three-pointer but Lakovic score twice from downtown to get Barcelona ahead, 59-46. Marconato beat the buzzer with another triple - his fourth in his 141-game Euroleague career - to give Barcelona a 62-46 margin after 30 minutes.
Panathinaikos needed a quick comeback to get back into the game, but Barcelona kept full control in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter with outstanding man-to-man defense. Navarro hit free throws that Javtokas erased with his second dunk. Michalis Kakiouzis made more foul shots while Marconato added a long jumper to seal the outcome, 68-50, with 7 minutes to go. Marconato and Dusan Sakota traded baskets, as Panathinaikos opted to rest its best players for the Greek Cup final this weekend. The Greens kept fighting, however, as Tomasevic stepped up with a put-back basket and soon added a fast break layup. Vazquez took over with a reverse dunk while Tomasevic kept pacing the Greens with free throws. It happened to be too little, too late for the Greens, as Barcelona left the court with a prestigious win.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007