Barcelona Regal headed to London after knocking Panathinaikos out
Barcelona Regal took another step on its quest for Turkish Airlines Euroleague glory by beating Panathinaikos Athens 64-53 on Thursday at Palau Blaugrana to win their best-of-five playoffs series 3-2 and advance to next month’s Final Four in London. Barcelona never trailed and was ahead by as much as 19 in the second quarter before the Greens rallied to within 6 in the fourth quarter. However Juan Carlos Navarro and Marcelinho Huertas each made timely threes to keep Barca in control en route to a deserved victory. Barcelona will face archrival Real Madrid in the semifinals in London. Two of the decisive factors in the game were rebounding and outside shooting. The hosts outrebounded Panathinaikos 46-32. And the visitors made just 1 of 16 three-point tries (06.3%). Those numbers proved to be too much for the Greens to overcome. Navarro led the winners with 15 points, Marcelinho added 10 and Nate Jawai came up big with 9 points on perfect shooting, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks in just 18 minutes. Stephane Lasme led Panathinaikos with 16 points and 7 boards and Jonas Maciulis netted 9 in defeat.
First quarter: Marcelinho propels Barcelona early
Point guards Marcelinho and Roko Ukic scored their respective teams’ first baskets with penetration floaters. Jumpers by Marcelinho and Alex Abrines put the hosts ahead, but Panathinaikos countered through Lasme and Jonas Maciulis. Navarro brought the fans to their feet with the game’s first three-pointer, 9-5. Jawai converted a crucial three-point play in which he stuck Panathinaikos star Dimitris Diamantidis with his third foul less than five minutes into the game and gave his team an 8-point lead. Mike Bramos came in and made an impact with an assist and a free throw. Joe Ingles made it 17-10 when he connected from behind the arc. Barca doubled up the Greens on a basket-plus-foul from Erazem Lorbek. The visitors clawed back two baskets, but before long Marcelinho tripled from the corner and Ingles hit from the opposite corner to finish the opening quarter ahead 28-14.
Second quarter: Navarro, Jawai fuel hosts to 19-point lead, Greens fight back
James Gist scored inside and Marcus Bamks from the line as Panathinaikos looked erase the lead, however Navarro made his famous la bomba and Jawai rejected Sofoklis Schortsanitis to keep the momentum at home. A Navarro triple and Jawai slam boosted the difference to 35-18. Ingles made it a 19-point game before Diamantidis came in and made a layup, but there was no stopping Barcelona. Marko Todorovic matched a Maciulis basket. Ukic sank the Greens’ first three and Lasme added free throws to bring the visitors within 12, but Lorbek responded with a three-pointer. Still the visitors battled and Kostas Tsartsaris set up Lasme for a slam. Then Lasme drew Ante Tomic’s third foul, drained 2 free throws and cut the difference to 9. Navarro, with a behind-the-back pass, set up Jawai at the basket for the half’s final basket and a 44-33 lead at the break.
Third quarter: Tense contest leads to lengthy scoreless stretch
Jawai and James Gist traded scores to start the second half. Lasme and Ukic managed to trim the Greens’ deficit to 9, but Tomic answered three different times – including drawing Diamantidis’s fourth foul midway through the quarter. Missed shots on both ends kept the difference at 10 for several minutes. Diamantidis finally broke a four-and-a-half minute deadlock with a drive in the final seconds of the quarter to make it 51-43.
Fourth quarter: Big shots from Navarro, Marcelinho send Barcelona to London
Diamantidis came through with a long jumper to silence the Barcelona crowd early in the fourth quarter. Navarro nailed a huge three-pointer two and a half minutes into the quarter to give his team some breathing room, 54-45. Another Navarro score settled the crowd down too. Macilulis answered, but with less than five minutes left, the Greens needed more. A pretty pass from Gist to lasme made it 57-49. Maciulis got to the line and carried his team within 6 on free throws with 2:41 to go. Ukic missed an open three that would have made it a one-possession game with two minutes to go. Instead Marcelinho connected at the other end to make it 62-53 as the arena erupted in song. A missed Diamantidis three seemed to mark the beginning of the end for Panathinaikos. Sarunas Jasikevicius iced the game from the line with a minute to go as Barcelona turned its attention to London.
Thursday, April 25, 2013