FC Barcelona Regal held off Zalgiris 58-67
Zalgiris started the game really strong at home on Thursday night, but once FC Barcelona Regal regrouped and managed to gain its first lead in the second quarter, the guests never looked back and took an almost decisive 58-67 road in in Kaunas, Lithuania. The win keeps Barca undefeated atop Group H with a 4-0 record and practically a Playoffs ticket. In fact, if Bennet Cantu defeats Maccabi Electra, the Spanish and the Italian teams will already advance tonight. Meanwhile, Zalgiris drops to 0-4 and is practically out of the race for the next phase. Zalgiris stayed in the game thanks to Tomas Delininkaitis, but three fatal minutes in the last period with no points and some turnovers allowed the guests to build the definitive margin through Chuck Eidson and Juan Carlos Navarro. Navarro led the winners with his 18 points, Erazem Lorbek added 16 and Eidson posted 15. For Zalgiris, which was missing Sonny Weems, only Delininkaitis scored in double digits with his 17 points.
Defenses started the game strong as it took three minutes for the first basket to arrive. It was through Paulius Jankunas three which put Zalgiris ahead 3-
0. That sparked a 7-0 run which kept FC Barcelona Regal scoreless during the first five minutes of the game. Dainius Salenga and Mantas Kalnietis built a
respectable lead until Chuck Eidson appeared with a three to get the guests going. A Jankunas slam for 9-3 forced a timeout of Barcelona, and thats when
Erazem Lorbek stepped up. Nine points by him, including two threes, kept Barca alive in the first quarter, 16-12, as Zalgiris was now struggling a littlemore
in front of the guests defense. However, Tomas Delininkaitis managed to drill a three in the closing seconds of the first quarter to make it 19-13 after 10
The second quarter started with a bang for Barca as Juan Carlos Navarro single-handedly made it a one-point game with a three and a steal plus layup for 19-
18, forcing Zalgiris timeout. CJ Wallace however scored to put Barca ahead for the first time, 19-20, and even though Salenga gave the hosts some air with a
bucket, Navarro was still everywhere. He scored a three-point play and also gave a couple assists finished off by Boni Ndong and Lorbek to keep the guests
ahead. On the other side, Zalgiris was looking inside to Milovan Rakovic to survive but again, Lorbek emerged with a clean three that made it 28-30. However
in the last minute it was all green as Delininkaitis first and DeJuan Collins later, hit four straight points for a 32-30 Zalgiris edge at the break.
With Navarro back on court, Barcelona meant business again. First it was Lorbek to keep on adding points to his column and then Navarro appeared with five
points of his own to make it 34-37. Zalgiris was having a hard time now in defense to stop the guests as Victor Sada Nailed a three and then Pete Mickeal had
a clean jumper to make it 36-42 to force a timeout of the hosts. Rakovic was still the main man for Zalgiris with nice moves inside. However, the hosts were
struggling from the free throw line and that was giving the guests some air minute after minute. Marcelinho Huertas hit a three for 39-45 and Rakovic replied
with a nice move in the baseline. Zalgiris was switching to zone defenses but Eidson found an open 6-meter jumper for 41-47. In the last play of the third
period, Mindaugas Kuzminskas slammed the ball to make it 43-47 after 30 minutes.
The decisive period started with five points for Eidson, including an open three, that soon made it 43-52. The hosts cut the action fast with a new timeout, and Delininkaitis appeared again for his own five straight points to make it 48-52. Collins even cut the deficit a little more but Eidson had five more points to make it 10 for him in the quarter and then Navarro picked up where the former left. Zalgiris was haivng a few turnovers now, and Barca was trying to seal the deal as Navarro had five points of his own to make it 52-62. Zalgiris was in the middle of its third minute with no points and Mickeal poured some more salt on the wound to make it 52-64 with 75 seconds to go. There was time left for little more as Barca stays undefeated in the Top 16 and is practically in the Playoffs while Zalgiris lost practically all the options to advance with no wins yet.
Thursday, February 9, 2012