Winterthur FC Barcelona bounced back from its first loss in Group C by downing Aris TT Bank 86-83 in a tough game at home in Palau Blaugrana, Spain, on Thursday night. Winterthur FCB improved to 6-1 in the Group C standings and remained tied with CSKA Moscow for the top spot. Aris dropped to 3-4 and is fifth on the Group C board. It was the first Euroleague showdown between the teams in 15 years, since they were fierce rivals in the late 1980s and early '90s. Juan Carlos Navarro led the winners with 26 points, Jaka Lakovic added 17 points and Michalis Kakiouzis scored 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds for Barcelona. Jeremiah Massey and Mike Wilkinson each had 25 points for Aris. Massey had 19 points in the first half, while Wilkinson had 21 after the break. Alex Scales added 15 for the hosts. Navarro shined in the second quarter and allowed Barcelona to take a 49-40 halftime lead. Wilkinson single-handedly kept Aris in the game, while a three-pointer by Massey brought the guests within 75-72. A 7-0 run, which Marconato capped with a dunk, allowed Barcelona to seal the win in the final 2 minutes.
Mario Kasun and Rodrigo De La Fuente combined for early free throws to give Barcelona a 4-0 lead. Massey buried a six-meter jumper, which Kasun erased with a layup, but Alex Scales answered from downtown to get Aris within 6-5. Lakovic shined with a floater, but Scales nailed another shot while Wilkinson made free throws to give Aris its first lead, 8-9. Lakovic scored again, but Massey followed foul shots with back-to-back layups to keep Aris ahead, 10-15. Barcelona called timeout and Navarro buried his first three-pointer and soon added his trademark "bomba" to tie it at 15-15. Aris tried a 2-3 zone defense, which Fran Vazquez punished with a put-back dunk. Denis Marconato capped a 9-0 Barcelona run with a short jumper, which caused Aris to call timeout at 19-15. Wilkinson scored inside and Massey buried a five-meter shot, but a driving layup by Lakovic and a fast break basket by Navarro allowed Barcelona to get a 23-19 edge after 10 minutes.
Navarro fired in another triple at the start of the second quarter, before Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Vazquez exchanged baskets to fix the scoreboard at 28-21. Massey tried to keep Aris in the game with free throws and a power layup, but he didn't find much help elsewhere. Meanwhile, Navarro shined with a three-point play, but Terrell Castle answered with a put-back basket and Massey nailed another shot to get the guests within 31-30. Navarro fed Kakiouzis for an easy layup and then added another layup-plus-foul to keep Barcelona ahead, 36-30. Jordi Trias finally managed to slow Massey and Aris was forced to look for other options on offense. Giorgos Sigalas buried a three-pointer, however Gianluca Basile stroke twice from downtown for a 43-36 Barcelona lead. Kakiouzis followed a second-chance basket with free throws. Scales and Georgios Kalaizis brought Aris back to life, but once again Kakiouzis allowed Barcelona to take a 49-40 halftime margin.
Wilkinson tried to ignit the Aris comeback with free throws and a big basket in the low post. De La Fuente got Barcelona going with a layup, while Lakovic added his trademark triple off a screen, good for a 54-44 lead. Navarro capped a 7-0 run with free throws, but Scales answered the same way to give Aris some fresh air. Wilkinson scored inside, as Barcelona struggled now against the guests' physical defense. Meanwhile, Wilkinson buried a three-pointer and Scales added more free throws to get Aris within 57-51. Kakiouzis hit a jump-hook after a Barcelona timeout, but Wilkinson single-handedly brought Aris within 59-57. Marconato made a short jumper and Lakovic buried a triple from the right wing to extend Barcelona's lead to 64-57. Wilkinson hit free throws and Castle added a short shot to bring the guests within 65-61, but Navarro beat the buzzer with a layup to help Barcelona keep a 67-61 lead after 30 minutes.
Massey worked well in the low post to get a layup-plus-foul, but Lakovic answered with a layup, which gave Barcelona a 69-64 lead. Points came now the hard way, but Scales shined with a fastbreak dunk to keep Aris in the game at 69-66. Navarro drew a foul and made 1-of-2 free throws, while Marconato nailed another jumper to cause the guests to call timeout, 72-66. Then Navarro slashed for a huge layup-plus-foul, which made it a 9-point game, 75-66, with 5 minutes to go. Abdul-Rauf fired in one from downtown and Massey added his own three-pointer to give Aris some hope at 75-72. Basile stepped up with a jumper and even when Wilkinson dunked it, Navarro scored again and fed Marconato for a dunk to keep Barcelona ahead, 81-74, with 1:40 remaining. A reverse layup by Kakiouzis and free throws by Lakovic sealed a well-deserved win for Barcelona, which had to battle hard to beat a tough, historical opponent.
Thursday, December 7, 2006