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The celebration was total at a full Palau. The night began with the commemoration of the Juan Carlos Navarro record of 253 Euroleague games, and ended in a Barça win over the current European champions, Olympiakos. It was the tenth win in ten matches in the Top 16, which leaves them very close to the top spot. The occasion needed seriousness, and focus in the key moments, to neutralise an opponent who wanted to impose a very slow pace.
From the start it wasn’t easy for Barca. They had little success from triple throws and had to rely on Tomic to keep the scoreboard moving (10-8, min 6). Without two stars Spanoulis and Printezis, Olympiakos also had trouble scoring. Neither of the teams were able to impose their rhythm, but Barça controlled the rebounds pretty well. Pullen is on a good run, and he helped Barça close out the first quarter in front (18-13 ).
However, a partial 0-6 early in the second quarter turned the score around (18-19 min 12). The Greek defense was very strong and it took the Catalan side three and a half minutes to score a point in this period. Then, Navarro took control and pushed Barça back n front (25-19, 16 min).
Until the break, Marcelinho had led his teammates with confidence and Tomic was impressive under the hoop. Moreover,collectively, Barça were excellent in defence, as evidenced by the scoreline at half-time: 33-27. Petway and, above all, Dunston were the visitors’ key players.
Olympiakos were beginning to make lengthy attacks and Barça were looking uncomfortable. The third quarter started with a partial of 2-10 ( 35-37). The Piraeus players were more accurate with their shots and Lorbek became the most inspired Barça player. As in the previous period, the Catalans recovered quickly (50-42, 28 min). Two triples from Oleson were decisive. Another great triple right on the whistle from Pullen meant that Barça went into the final 10 minutes with a decent lead (55-44).
The point guard got the Palau crowd going. With men like him, Dorsey, and Navarro on the court, every move generated expectation. Also, Olympiakos began to miss their absent players. They had run out of steam. Meanwhile, Olsen continued his recital (65-49, 36 min). The match was over. The night ended with everybody happy and a festive atmosphere, which couldn’t be otherwise on Navarro’s special day.
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