Winterthur FC Barcelona became the second team to advance to the Top 16 from Group C by defeating its guests from Zalgiris Kaunas 84-67 in a showdown between former Euroleague champions on Wednesday. Barcelona improved to 8-2 and stays second in the Group C standings, one win away from CSKA Moscow. It has a five-victory avdantage over Eldo Napoli and Fenerbahce Ulker, who tie for the sixth place at 3-7, enough to seal its ticket to the next round. Meanwhile, Zalgiris dropped to 1-9 and is on a eight-game losing streak. Mario Kasun and Michalis Kakiouzis led the winners each with 15 points. Kakiouzis collected 6 steals while Kasun grabbed 8 rebounds. Denis Marconato added 11 points and Juan Carlos Navarro 10 for Barcelona. Jonas Maciulis had 18 points for Zalgiris, Marcelinho Marcado 13 and Paulius Jankunas 12. Kakiouzis, Marconato and Navarro fueled a 16-1 run which gave Barcelona a 28-12 after 10 minutes. Maciulis and Jankunas made Zalgiris rally and get within 57-55, but Jaka Lakovic and Kakiouzis allowed Barcelona to seal the win long before the final buzzer.
Barcelona opened the game with a tall lineup featuring Michalis Kakiouzis at small forward. Vidas Ginevicius opened the scoring with a fastbreak layup to which Jonas Maciulis added a basket in transition for a 0-4 Zalgiris lead. Navarro got Barcelona going with free throws that Marcelinho Machado matched with a five-meter jumper for the visitors. Mario Kasun stepped up with a put-back dunk for Barcelona while Kakiouzis added a third-chance layup to tie it up, 6-6. Machado scored again but Fran Vazquez answered with a power layup and Roko-Leni Ukic hit free throws to give Barcelona its first lead, 10-8. Maciulis found space for an uncontested dunk to tie again, 10-10, but soon Kakiouzis, Denis Marconato and Navarro combined for all the points in a massive 16-1 Barcelona run. Navarro's incredible driving layup finished it with the hosts on their way to a 28-12 advantage after 10 minutes.
Rodrigo De la Fuente buried a shot from downtown and Marconato dunked for Barcelona to make it a 21-point game, 33-12, early in the second quarter. Tanoka Beard finally found his first basket and soon added another layup, as Zalgiris improved its defense now. Jankunas capped a 0-6 Zalgiris run with a fastbreak dunk but De la Fuente answered with a corner three-pointer to keep Barcelona ahead, 36-18. Kasun shined with a tip-in while free throws by Maciulis and a triple by Hanno Mottola gave Zalgiris some hope at 38-23. Kasun kept pacing Barcelona with a jump-hook and the free throw that came with it, while Jordi Trias dunked twice for a 20-point Barcelona lead, 45-25. Machado hit free throws and buried a triple but an unstoppable Kasun paired a layup with a dunk to give the hosts 49-30 lead at halftime.
Jankunas tried to ignite a comeback with consecutive put-backs that Beard followed with a layup to get Zalgiris within 52-37 early in the third quarter. Zalgiris kept dominating the boards, and the ever-present Jankunas added a three-point play to 3 free throws by Maciulis, cutting the difference to 52-43. Maciulis scored again around the basket and Jankunas added a tip-in to make it a six-point game, 53-47. Beard capped a mammoth 2-17 run with a power layup at 53-49. Marconato hit a short jumper and soon added free throws to give Barcelona some air at 57-49. Zalgiris did not panic, however, as a three-pointer by Mottola sparked a 0-6 burst that Jankunas capped with a free throw to make it 57-55 barely 10 minutes after the guests had been trailing by 20. Ukic scored in penetration while Lakovic added a three-pointer, and even when Vytenis Jasikevicius shined with a driving layup, Trias beat the buzzer to let Barcelona keep a 64-57 lead after three quarters.
Lakovic buried his second triple in as many minutes to restore Barcelona's double-digit lead, 67-57, early in the fourth quarter. Maciulis responded with a huge fastbreak dunk, but Zalgiris struggled to score after that. Barcelona had started to play with long possessions, while Kakiouzis, Trias and Kasun made free throws to keep the hosts out of trouble at 73-59 midway through the final period. Machado shined with a turnaround jumper but Kakiouzis bettered it with a three-pointer. When Zalgiris went scoreless on three consecutive possessions, its options faded fast. Lakovic scored in penetration followin a Zalgiris timeout to make it 78-61, sealing the outcome with 3 minutes to go. Barcelona will keep fighting for the Euroleague title, while Zalgiris now needs a miracle to advance to the next round.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007