There could have been no better time for a road win. At a Caja Laboral where the home side is on a 17-0 streak, Barça showed that they still have what it takes to deliver the goods when it counts. The 79-90 win and the 23 points from Mickeal are testimony of that. And Juan Carlos Navarro made Euroleague history tonight by becoming the first player to top 3000 points in the tournament.
Offence tops defence
The first twenty minutes were sheer madness. It was a homage to attacking basketball, with both sides eager to get off to strong starts. From 9-8 it was soon 15-8, but Xavi Pascual’s players didn’t take long to find their rhythm, and thanks to some intense play had almost edged into the lead by the end of the period. It ended 28-27.
The second period started with some suggestion that the respective defences were starting to make their presences more felt. Barça and especially the plethoric Ingles presented plenty of warnings to their Basque hosts and eventually slipped ahead at 34-35, and snatched a five-point lead (39-44) following a Wallace three. But several 3-pointers from Oleson and San Emeterio soon had the gap down to three, which is how things stood at the break.
Barça push on
The second half began with Barça taking a more defensive approach, leaving little room for their hosts to move in and only springing forward when they sensed their chances. Such cunning worked, and they finally built up a ten point lead at 51-61 after a Navarro three and a two from Mickeal. The side coached by Tabak fell into temporary disarray and Barça moved 13 ahead following a dunk from an exceptional Jawai (54-67). But it was then that the famous ‘Baskonia spirit’ came out in all its glory. A 6-0 streak was as much a psychological boost as it was an improvement in the scoreboard for the hosts, but a Jasikevicius score ensured the period ended with FCB still enjoying a nine-point cushion 60-69).
The Buesa Arena comes alive
The last ten minutes saw the Buesa Arena faithful really getting behind their team, and suddenly Caja Laboral were back within a point at 70-71, with Maciej Lampe particularly impressive. But Barça stayed calm and produced a 7-0 streak led by Mickeal and Lorbek to silence the crowd, who had sensed they were witnessing a famous comeback (70-78). Patiently playing down the clock, Barça extended their lead to thirteen points at 72-85, thanks to a three from Sada.
Caja Laboral ran out of gas as they realised they were fighting a losing battle. Mickeal scored twice to end a fantastic night’s work at 79-90, and the 11 points will also do wonders for Barça Regal’s basket average.