AXA FC Barcelona picked up its first win of the Euroleague Basketball season on Thursday by downing Fenerbahce Ulker 82-67 at the Palau Blaugrana in a Group C encounter. Jordi Trias led five Barca scorers in double figures with 14 points as head coach Dusan Ivanovic's side bounced back from last week's loss with a convincing win. Fener, which had Willie Solomon back after an injury sidelined him last week, put up a valiant effort before succumbing in the fourth quarter. The hosts scored 13 unanswered points in the first period en route to a 26-13lead after 10 minutes. Barcelona seemed on course for a blowout win as the lead grew to 17 early in the second period, but Solomon and Omer Onan kept Fener going and the latter's three at the end of the period cut the gap to 44-36 at halftime. The push continued after the break and the gap was cut to 2, but Dennis Marconato and Trias had other ideas. With Jaka Lakovic and Pepe Sanchez confidently running the show, Barcelona remained in control. Solomon and co. did not relent, but they didn't have enough to overtake the hosts down the stretch as the Turkish champs fell to 0-2. Lakovic finished with 13 points and 5 assists, Roger Grimau scored 11, Ersan Ilyasova and Marconato had 10 each and Sanchez finished with 6 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals for the victors. Solomon led Fenerbahce with 19 points, Onan had 12 points and 5 assists and Mirsad Turkcan posted 9 points and 9 rebounds.
Marconato won the opening tip for Barcelona and was rewarded with the games first two baskets. Solomon hit a long-range jumper and then James “Flight” White drilled a triple to put Fener ahead 4-5. Marconato turned provider and assisted on a Trias dunk, but Solomon kept the visitors going with a jumper. After Solomon tied it at 10-10 with a drive, Barcelona took over as Ilyasova scored 5 and Trias 4 during a 13-0 storm that seemed to break the game open. With Solomon on the bench with 2 fouls, the visiting attack struggled to generate good opportunities. Onan finally stopped the bleeding for Fenerbahce with a fast break layup, but another Ilyasova triple kept the hosts comfortably ahead as the first period ended with the hosts up 26-13.
Oguz Savas got things going for Fener with a hook at the start of the second period, but Mario Kasun and Fran Vazquez had the answers for the hosts. Onan's three was matched by Grimau's. Pepe Sanchez got in the act, setting up Kasun inside and then dropping in a finger roll that increased the advantage to 17. Onan's basket and Semih Erden's three-point play seemed to inspire Fener and soon Turkcan's layup made it 35-25. Solomon and Kasun traded baskets, before Lakovic hit from downtown. However Solomon matched him to keep Fenerbahce going. Vazquez scored a tough basket on the offensive glass, but Onan capped the first half with a triple to get his team within 44-36 at halftime.
Savas scored inside early in the third period as Fenerbahce continued to chip away. An Onan layup and Turkcan free throws cut it to 44-42. Marconato answered twice inside for Barca to make it 49-44 and keep the lead from slipping away. Trias added a bucket in the paint as it seemed that Fener had lost its edge, but a powerful Erden slam showed that the visitors weren't done yet. However Gianluca Basile had other ideas drilling a triple to make it 54-46. Sanchez soon had the hosts up 10 and even when Emir Preldzic drilled a three, Trias answered with a jumper. Still Solomon hit from downtown as time in the period expired to make it 59-52 with 10 minutes remaining.
Lakovic sliced through the defense for a layup at the start of the fourth quarter, but Erden powered his way to a slam at the other end. The ever-efficient Marconato added a bucket and Lakovic hit from beyond the arc, but Turkcan's mid-range jumper and Preldzic's layup showed the visitors weren't going away. However when Erden was called for his fourth foul – on the offensive end – it significantly weakened the Fener interior defense. It slowly took its toll, as Lakovic added free throws and Kasun threw down a two-handed slam in transition to push the lead up to 14. White fought his way to the basket for 2 points only to see Sanchez sink a three and Grimau add a layup as Barcelona looked to seal the deal.Solomon had another long jumper left in him, but Barca was already starting to kill the clock and there was little that Fener could do as the hosts wrapped up the victory.
Thursday, November 1, 2007