Barça have been threatening to show something special for some time. And tonight’s win against CSKA Moscow (79-70) is proof that despite a slow start to the campaign, there is massive potential in a team that seems to be gelling at last. Navarro was simply astounding in the second half as Barça brought their Euroleague record to 2-2.
The first half was a tight affair. CSKA dominated the first period, even though Barça had drawn first blood with an Abrines three to make it 9-7. From then on, Kaun and Teodosic took command, and the Russians were 9-16 at one point, although the Catalans narrowed the gap to 18-20 by the end of the first ten minutes.
Barça looked more unsettled in the second period, but despite some fine scoring from Teodosic, CSKA failed to exploit the situation, and should have done better and extended their lead beyond five points, which is where things stood at the break (35-40).
Barça were far more alert after the break. Navarro led an 11-0 streak to make it 46-40 and the Palau also came back to life. All of a sudden, it was the home side who were on top, and anything Nachbar and Papanikolaou could produce was promptly neutralised by Navarro’s amazing display, and after 25 minutes, Barça were ten up (52-42).
And there was more to come. Barça’s biggest lead came at 62-47, which is when CSKA finally found their feet again, and battled back to 62-54.
The last ten minutes almost saw all Barcelona’s good work in the third period fade to nothing. CSKA came back to within four (62-58), but Navarro, Huertas and Tomic hadn’t finished their night’s work, and Barça got their tactics spot-on as they played out the final minutes and eventually finished with a nine-point cushion (79-70).