The Barça basketball team achieved an important and impressive victory in their final game of the opening phase of this season’s Euroleague against one of the favourites for the competition, Greek side Panathinaikos. Xavi Pascual’s team put in a complete performance to take a 78 to 69 win on the return of former coach Dusko Ivanovic to the Palau Blaugrana. Tomic with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Navarro – decisive in the final minutes – Oleson and Lampe all chipped in with 12 points and were the top scorers for the blaugranes.
In one of the most attractive match ups in the Euroleague both the blaugranes and the Greeks did not disappoint. The first quarter was tight in the extreme. Barça relied on their inside game whilst Panathinaikos were reliant on the skills of Diamantidis. Tomic scored 10 first quarter points with Batista for the visitors also outstanding with the score tied at 18 going into the second quarter. Pascual’s team moved up a gear in the second quarter – Lampe was excellent in close and Oleson started to rack up point from outside the three-point line. Early on in the quarter the Greeks held Barça in check but as the game move toward half time, the blaugranes edged ahead with Navarro’s three pointer giving them a 47-38 lead at the end of the second quarter.
The high scoring continued in the second half. Marcelinho nailed two three pointers that gave Barça a 55-42 lead but Panathinaikos fought back to keep themselves in the game. Nevertheless, the home side were able to maintain a 8-10 point cushion as the contest moved towards the final quarter.
Oleson and Navarro kept scoring from the perimeter to keep Ivanovic’s side at bay. The Barça captain appeared at the start of the fourth quarter to stamp his authority on the encounter with a tremendous basket from beyond the three-point line. However, two quick fouls by Abrines allowed the Greeks hope as they narrowed the lead to 67-62. With 5 minutes remaining the tension was palpable but a three from Lampe restored the status quo with the blaugranes leading by 7. Navarro’s experience came to the fore in the final stages to guide his team to their fifth consecutive victory in the Euroleague. Barça remain unbeaten in Group C at the end of the first phase and once again showed their credentials in Europe.