Barça were beaten at the Palau Blaugrana by Caja Laboral in a game that had two halves: in the first, Barça were brilliant and faultless, going in with a 15 point lead(50-35), but in the second, Nocioni’s 32 points meant Barça went down 86-97 for their second Top 16 defeat. The Palau hosts the first quarter final game next Tuesday.
Juan Carlos Navarro was the star of the show in an electric first two quarters from Barça with 4 from 4 three pointers and 7 from 7 in free shots to finish up with 18 points in the first half, as Barça cruised into a 50-35 lead at the break. Bostjan Nachbar chipped in with four three pointers with Barça looking on course for a win.
Laboral Kutxa came out after the break with a different attitude though and Barça went missing, slipping from 50-35 to 60-66 with Nocioni chalking up19 points in the third quarter (and ending up with 32 for the game). As the hosts got increasingly frustrated with some of the refereeing decisions, the game slipped away even more from them and they were 62-75 down on 33 minutes).
In the end, the 86-97 defeat isn’t that important for Barça’s European prospects, but it could be a wake up call ahead of the quarter final play offs starting at the Palau next week
Speaking to the press after the game, coach Xavi Pascual insisted: "we dominated the game and played brilliantly in the first two quarters, but in the second half it was like the game against Panathinaikos three years ago, when we were in charge and then went missing”.