AXA FC Barcelona got closer to make it to the Quarterfinal Playoffs in Group G by thrashing Lottomatica Roma 86-57 at home on Thursday. Barcelona ties with CSKA Moscow for first place at 2-1 and faces Unicaja in Malaga next week. Meanwhile, Lottomatica dropped to 1-2, ties with Unicaja for the third spot and welcomes CSKA in Week 4. All teams have won their respective home wins in Group G after 3 weeks. Gianluca Basile paced the winners with 19 points while Jaka Lakovic added 17 for Barcelona. David Hawkins led Lottomatica with 18 points, Erazem Lorbek added 15 while Roko Ukic had 11 for the guests. Lorbek scored to bring Lottomatica within 18-11 but the guests went scoreless in the next 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Basile, Roger Grimau, Denis Marconato and Jordi Trias fueled a game-breaking 23-0 run that broke the game for good, 39-11. Lottomatica was not done, however, as an outstanding Hawkins singlehandedly led a 0-17 run that gave the guests some hope, 41-31, early in the third quarter. Three-pointers by Basile, Pepe Sanchez and Alex Acker allowed Barcelona to restore a 59-40 margin after 30 minutes and seal the outcome long before the final buzzer.
Trias got Barcelona going with an easy basket and Basile soon found his first points, but Ukic followed a layup with a three-pointer for a 4-5 Lottomatica lead. Barcelona soon managed to stop Ukic, while Lakovic stepped up with his first basket and Mario Kasun added a free throw to give the hosts a 7-5 edge. Gregor Fucka tied the game but Basile buried his trademark three-pointer to put Barcelona back ahead, 10-7. Andrea Crosariol stepped up with a second-chance basket but Kasun took over with a two-handed power dunk that Vazquez followed with a high-flying put-back slam, good for a 14-9 Barcelona lead. Lottomatica quickly called timeout but Acker made free throws for a seven-point Barcelona lead, 16-9. Lorbek and Vazquez exchanged baskets, as the game turned into a physical battle late in the first quarter. Ersan Ilyasova hit foul shots while Basile took over with a three-point play for a 23-11 Barcelona margin. Lottomatica struggled to score now. Meanwhile, Basile and Vazquez made free throws while Basile beat the buzzer with a seven-meter bomb that cgave Barcelona a 30-11 lead after 10 minutes.
Lottomatica had been scoreless for almost 6 minutes, while Grimau followed a driving layup with a bomb from downtown to make it a 24-point game, 35-11. The guests even missed shot around the baskets now and Barcelona kept controlling the defensive board. Lottomatica had missed 16 consecutive shots and committed 2 turnovers and even when it called a much-needed timeout, Marconato finished a four-chance Barcelona offense with a layup. Barcelona did not find easy options in offense now, but its outstanding defense allowed the hosts to keep full control of the game. Lottomatica has not scored any single point for more than 10 minutes already while Trias capped a mamooth 23-0 run with free throws, 39-11. Alessandro Tonolli finally stepped up for Roma with a fast break layup that Trias erased with a five-meter jumper. Hawkins sank foul shots and Lorbek buried a jumper to bring Roma back to life, 41-17. A three-point play by Hawkins made Barcelona call timeout at 41-20. Hawkins kept pacing Roma with a corner triple while Lorbek scored again to bring the guests within 41-25 at halftime.
Hawkins buried another corner three-pointer and added a fast break layup to bring Lottomatica back in the game, 41-30, right after the break. Barcelona kept missing one shot after another against the guests' aggressive defense. Meanwhile, the ever-present Hawkins made a free throw that capped a 0-18 Lottomatica run, 41-31. Kasun got the crowd involved with a two-handed dunk that Fucka erased with a followup layup. Basile fired in a corner triple while Pepe Sanchez finished a long Barcelona offense with his own shot from downtown to give his team some fresh air, 49-33. Acker joined the three-point shootout to make Lottomatica call timeout, 52-33, after a 9-0 run. Lorbek stepped up with a jump hook while Ukic sank a corner three-pointer to give Roma some hope, 52-38. Ilyasova had a huge block on Ibrahim Jaaber, allowing Barcelona to improve its defense right away. Meanwhile, Acker made free throws for a 54-38 Barcelona lead. Lakovic stroke from downtown while Marconato dunked it to make it a 21-point game, 59-38. Jaaber scored in penetration to get Roma within 59-40 at the end of the third quarter.
Barcelona tried to slow down the game tempo early in the fourth quarter, trying to avoid another major Lottomatica comeback. Meanwhile, Vazquez had an outstanding block on Lorbek that send the crowd on their feet. An unsportsmanlike foul by Ukic allowed Lakovic to make free throws for a 61-40 Barcelona margin with 8 minutes to go. Lottomatica struggled to score again and Barcelona kept using long possessions now. Meanwhile, free throws by Vazquez and Acker sealed the outcome, 64-40. Both teams now fought for points differential now, a crucial factor for the outcome of this group. Hawkins kept scoring for Roma but he didn't find much help around. Meanwhile, three-pointers by Lakovic and Basile kept Barcelona way ahead, 70-47. Fucka was disqualified while Gary Neal found his first Euroleague points this season to give the hosts a 75-47 margin with less than 4 minutes to go. Nothing changed until the final buzzer, as Barcelona had already cruised to a big win that could well become a very important one at the end of the Top 16.
Thursday, February 28, 2008