The first NBA Live Europe game featuring a Euroleague team proved just as competitive as expected. After 48 minutes of a back-and-forth action, Winterthur FCB became just the second team in European basketball to defeat an NBA club, topping the Philadelphia 76ers 104-99 in Barcelona on Thursday. A sellout crowd of 16,236 raised the roof of Palau Sant Jordi as Juan Carlos Navarro and Gianluca Basile drilled back-to-back three-pointers in the next-to-last minute to break open what had been a close game throughout. Philadelphia led by a point after one quarter, it was tied at halftime, and Barcelona was up by one after 36 minutes. The final quarter was the key, as Barcelona played calm and hit its open shots down the stretch. Balanced scoring did the trick for Barcelona. Juan Carlos Navarro led the way with 18 points. Basile, Jaka Lakovic and Mikalis Kakiouzis added 17 points each and Fran Vazquez 15. Philadelphia's top scorer was Samuel Dalembert with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Chris Webber followed with 19. The win marks the second year in a row that a Euroleague side has defeated an NBA team in a preseason exhibition, following Maccabi Tel Aviv's victory over the Toronto Raptors last October.
The Sixers started strong with Chris Webber leading the way and Philadelphia soon took a 2-6 lead. The NBA side remained in control and when Iverson's first shot went in and then Samuel Dalembert followed with a tip-in, the visitors went up by 6. After a Willie Green layup and another Dalembert hoop, Philadelphia led 6-16. But Barcelona remained strong, and jumpers from Juan Carlos Navarro and Jaka Lakovic closed the gap and a Navarro floater made it 17-21. After a Dalembert free throw, Denis Marconato fed Fran Vazquez for a pair and the lead was just 3. Navarro's 3-point attempt to tie the game at 24 rolled out but he would have another chance two minutes later. After some 76er woes at the charity stripe, Navarro dropped a bomb to the delight of the fans that put Barcelona up 26-25. Philly went inside to Shavlik Randolph, but Ginaluca Basile's triple returned the lead to the hosts. However, not to be outdone, Iverson drew a foul from Roko-Leni Ukic while firing a three and made all three from the line to end the opening quarter with a slim lead, 29-30.
Both teams went inside early in the second period, with Philadelphia first finding success via Steven Hunter and Barca answering with a Mario Kasun slam.Some sloppy play sandwiched the TV timeout as the game was scoreless for over two minutes before Hunter found his way to another bucket inside. Kyle Korver's jumper made it 31-36. However some questionable 76er ball-handling led to extra Barcelona opportunities, which Ukic used for a pair of free throws and a triple to tie the score at 36-36. Rookie Ivan McFarlin's aggressiveness helped Philadelphia get downcourt for an easy hoop, but Barcelona knotted the score when Roger Grimau fed Michail Kakiouzis on the break and regained the lead when Marconato dunked on the offensive glass. But the tide looked to turn after Navarro was called for an offensive foul and then recieved a technical for arguing. Webber made a free throw and then fed Dalembert for an alley-oop slam, yet the hosts didn't crack. Basile fired in a 3 to put his side up 50-47 after Webber's jumper, however Iverson soon tied it again at 51-51 and that’s how it remained at the break.
Barcelona went back on top on the first play of the second half through Vazquez's follow, he would score on the next two possessions, first with a free throw and then off o Kasun feed for a dunk that put Barca up by 5. A Navarro steal led to a Lakovic layup to cap a 7-0 spurt, giving the hosts their biggest lead yet – 58-51. Green's jumper finally put the Sixers on the board after two-plus minutes, but Navarro drew a foul and made his free throws and soon his feed to Vazquez for a jumper made it 64-56. Strong play by Dalembert helped Philly close the gap to 4 midway through the quarter, but Vazquez's stand-out period continued as Barca remained ahead. After Korver free throws, Marconato was whistled for a moving pick and Iverson took advantage with a jumper for his 10th point to make it 72-70 with a minute left in the third. Then after Marconato missed inside, Philadelphia missed two jumpers, but controlled the offensive rebound each time. After the second, Dalembert drew a foul from Marconato and coach Dusko Ivanovic's reaction drew a technical foul. The end result was a 7-0 run that put the Sixers on top 72-73, but the last play went to Navarro, who also drew a foul and made both shots to give the home team a 74-73 lead after 36 minutes.
The fourth quarter began at a snail's pace, with more than two minutes passing before the first field goal, a 3-pointer from Kakiouzis that made it 77-75. A pair of Barcelona offensive fouls sandwiched a Kevin Ollie turnover, but on Philadelphia's next turn Andre Iguodala got to the line and made one. However his miss led to a Webber basket, putting the Sixers up 77-78. Navarro answered in transition as the lead began to sway from side to side. Iguodala's reverse slam was met by another Kakiouzis 3. But then Iverson bowled over Lakovic for an offensive foul and Vazquez hit a baby hook to help Barcelona go up 84-80 at the middle point of the period. The lead grew to 6 after an ill-advised Iguodala attempt failed and Basile punished on the other end from downtown. Dalembert scored inside, but Basile's hot hand led to another long jumper. However Korver connected for a 3 and Dalembert corrected an Iverson miss to trim the gap tot 89-88. Basile added 2 free throws with three minutes to go as a wild finish began. Nerves started to take over, with players missing shots and miss-handling balls. Dalembert tepped up to cut it to 1, but Lakovic drove the hoop for 2. Iverson made only 1 from the line and Navarro took charge and added 2 more for the hosts. Then a Philadelphia turnover was met by a Basile 4-point play with just over a minute to go that gave Barcelona a 100-91 lead to the delight of the packed Palau Sant Jordi. Iverson and co. began to look for points at any cost, but a timely offensive rebound by Vazquez and smart clock management limited the Sixers' options. Even Iguodala's power slam with 12 seconds to go was meaningless, as Barca made its free throws on the other end and was able to celebrate the win with its fans even before the final buzzer. When the horn finally sounded, the scoreboard showed a memorable 104-99 victory for Barcelona!
Winterthur FC Barcelona head coach Dusko Ivanovic:
"I think we had great atmosphere tonight. When Palau Sant Jordi is full, it's a true pleasure to play here. For us, compared to our recent games, we have improved tonight. We defended correctly and played offense more fluidly. It's an important victory for us and for basketball in Europe. It's the first time that a team wins against an NBA team here. Obviously, our rivals tonight weren't in their best shape. They are only at the beginning of their preseason and far from their best. But for me and my team, I hope this gives us confidence for our next games."
"We prepared for this games with the idea of playing well, but mostly to help us in our important games ahead. We did some things better, but above all it's the mental aspct of this win that can be best for us. We'll see."
"It's true that some guys played a lot better than in previous games. They got their rhythm, but the truth is it seemed easier to attack tonight than in the ACB. In our own league, the defense is more difficult. It was easier to attack tonight."
"It's important in that its the first win like this against an NBA team. In that respect, yes it's important, but nothing more. We took this game as preparation for important games coming up."
Winterthur FC Barcelona guard Juan Carlos Navarro:
"This win is great for us, because of the moment we were going through. It's the first team that we beat an NBA team and with all the crowd, and I hope it pushes us alittle for next Sunday. They have a different way of playing, they didn't defend the direct screens very well, they have practiced little and they are in preseason. People had a good time and it's hard to play against such physical teams as they are. It's a night to remember, all our appointmenats at Palau Sant Jordi were great. The Final Four was really specail, it always motivates you a little more. But this was a fun game, we scored more points than usual and we had a good time. We were fluent in offense and will give us confidence for next games. Tomorrow we will just go to practice like every day."
Winterthur FC Barcelona center Fran Vazquez:
"This games was great for us to improve as a team. We were a little stuck, but we saw that playing well we can beat anybody. We had the time of our lives playing against and beating an NBA team. It was the first time I played against someone like Iverson and it impressed me."
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Maurice Cheeks:
"It was a very good game by Barcelona. They shot the ball extremely well, and on offense, they moved and cut. Again, they shot real well, and for us, we missed 22 foul shots and had close to 20 turnovers, which were a big part of the problem for us. Give them credit: they made the plays and the shots when they had to. I thought their offense moved a lot. They were cutting and moving. Typically, in the NBA, offenses don't move like that, with a lot of guys moving off the ball. But they made their shots and that was the key, making the shots."
"They've probably been playing together a little longer than we have. Our training camp started five days ago and they probably played together awhile. Again, I thought their offense was moving well. They played a game recently in which they scored 50 points and tonight they had 100. A lot of that is due to making shots. They cut, moved and brought big guys outside, and those guys were shooting as well. That gave us a little trouble because we're used to playing against a typical NBA offense, and this was more moving, cutting and screening. They did a nice job."
"I love Barcelona. The city is beautiful. The people have been cordial and nice. Except for the game, it's been a great time."
Philadelphia 76ers forward Chris Webber:
"I echo what coach said. Besides the game today, it's been a great time. They maybe have been playing together a longer time, but basketball is basketball and you have to give them credit first. Credit them for making the shots and playing well. We missed a lot of free throws and committed turnovers. You're not going to win like that anywhere. But this won't affect our psyche. Just give them credit."
"It has been a great experience coming here and just seeing a different part of the world. It's great to share basketball this way with the rest of the world. And the best part about it is the people have been great here. Besides the game today, it's been a great time."
Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson:
"We missed 20-some free throws and we didn't defend well. That's what happens when you miss free throws and you don't defend. They've got players that can play in the NBA, and they play well together. You can tell that team has played together. They execute their offense real well, and when you make a mistake they make you pay for it."