Barça showed strength and desire as the won their opening fixture in the Euroleague Top 16, playing their best game of the season just when it mattered most, and supported all the way by a vociferous Palau Blaugrana. Barça Regal defeated Fenerbahçe in a win that means so much more coming on the back of a 0-4 losing streak, and ahead of the clásico on Sunday against Real Madrid. Playing as they did tonight, Barça should be able to get their season back on track in 2013.
Just about everything came off to perfection, with the Istanbul side stifled by a tremendous defensive display from FCB. Meanwhile, the home side had all the luck it needed with 3-point efforts (5/6 in the first half), and managed to circulate the ball beautifully in offence, with the coach making all the right decisions as he rotated his bench.
Víctor Sada, who started the game, excelled in particular with his man-to-man job on McCalebb, the Macedonia nationalised American never really managing to get into his stride, and not even scoring until the third period. His lack of form was much to blame for his side already being 11 points down after the first period (24-13).
Playing an attractive game, Barça didn’t ease off in the second, and the Turks simply didn’t have the game plan to respond. The home side’s lead was extended to twenty, and at the break it was 54-35, with Lorbek and Juan Carlos Navarro particularly determinant from the outset.
Xavi Pascual’s side continued in control in the second half and found themselves building up an even wider margin in a game that was anything but the close contest most punters had predicted (73-49). In the final period, that gap did start to narrow, but there was clearly little chance of the Turks actually getting back into contention, although Barça never let off the guard, knowing that in recent matches they have managed to throw away some seemingly unassailable leads.
But with the score at 92-69, there was little danger of such a calamity happening tonight, perhaps partly because Barça knew that even though the game was one, basket-difference can still come into play in this four-team round robin, so the bigger the winning margin the better. And the 22 point difference that the Catalans took out of a game that ended 100-78 pits them in the best possible situation after one game in the Top 16.