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Huertas, against Siena (Photo: Àlex Caparrós-FCB)

Navarro, in the final stretch of the match against Siena (Photo: Àlex Caparrós-FCB)

Ndong, with 17 points against Siena (Photo: Àlex Caparrós-FCB)

Mickeal (Photo: Àlex Caparrós-FCB)

Eidson, man of the match against Siena (Photo: Àlex Caparrós-FCB)

Barça Regal consolidated their position at the top of group D in the first phase of the Euroleague. The Azulgrana played a great game against Siena’s Montepaschi, who only reacted strongly in the final quarter of the match. Barça Regal hung with their opponents throughout the whole game largely in part to Eidson’s 22 points and Ndong’s 17 points.

Exciting start

The game started in the best possible way for Barça Regal. Pascual’s men jumped to a 19-4 lead against an almost impotent Montepaschi that couldn’t cope with magnitude of play displayed by the home side: fast, agile, controlling, and with a field goal percentage that was lethally high.

Four minutes to go before the end of the first quarter, Moss came in for Aradori, and everything changed; it was the moment when the fastest player on the court sprung into action, Bo McCalebb. The nationalized Macedonian rallied his teammates to a 0-8 point run, effectively stopping Barça’s onslaught (19-12). In the final stretch of the first quarter, Pascual’s men bounced back and went on a run themselves managing a 12 point lead over their Italian rivals before the end of the quarter (24-12).

The referees, protagonists

In the second quarter, the visiting manager Simone Pianigiani made substitutions. The ex Barça Regal player, Andersen, who only scored two points in the first quarter, was benched and Igor Rakocevic, well known in the ACB, came onto the court. The Serbian, despite his 33 years of age, stabilized his side but wasn’t able to spur his team into controlling the game. Barça Regal, with Fran Vázquez on the post, and good rotations from Sada and CJ Wallace allowed the home side to retain their advantage.

The referees, however, quickly became the protagonists in what was a fairly polemic free match up to that point. First, the referee called three consecutive fouls on Joe Ingles, who obviously had to return to the bench, then Mickeal and Moss were ejected from the match. It is true that both players exchanged heated words, albeit very few, after the Barcelona player completed a play. However, at the break it was 40-28 for Barça Regal.

Andersen, centre stage

Barça Regal started the second half well aware of the threat brewing on the Italian bench: Andersen was warming up, loosening up his wrist. McCalebb, as always, wasn’t letting up. The Italians were able to cut Barça’s advantage to 46-36, even though Chuck Eidson captured rebound after rebound and was nailing three pointers. In 4 minutes, however, Andersen and McCalebb scored 13 points between them. Barça Regal responded with an inspired Navarro, constantly double teamed, assisting Ndong and Lorbeck time and again, which pushed Barça to a 56-43 lead at the 25 minute mark.

Rakocevic quickly took responsibility for the Italian side, after Andersen and McCalebb’s dominance started to falter, with 11 points at the 27 minutes. The good connection between Fran Vázquez and Marcelinho Huertas, on the Barça side, proved too much for the Italians as the Gallegan stood rock solid on defence. At the end of the third quarter Barça lead 63-50.

Vázquez and Eidson, omnipresent

In contrast to the first three, the final quarter’s first minutes saw both teams play at a slower pace. Pianigiani replaced McCalebb with Zisis, the impact of the substitution on the game was evident. Vázquez remained stalwart on defence, and an inspired Eidson, on offence, saw Barça take a +17 point lead with 7 minutes to go before the conclusion of the match (70-53).

In the final 6 minutes of the game, with Bo McCalebb back on the court, Lavrinovic and Kaukenas closed the gap to only 11 points. Pascual called a necessary time out with 5 minutes and 45 seconds on the clock. The Barça manager reintroduced Lorbeck and Navarro, even though the latter didn’t have the best of nights, in an attempt to hold the lead. The Italians, however, with many visits to the free throw line came within seven points with four minutes to go. It was Navarro with six consecutive points, and a slam from Ndong, that saw Barça take an eight point run (81-68). In the end, Barça took the victory over the Italian side in an exciting game in the Palau.

Match Stats

FC BARCELONA REGAL, 92
MONTEPASCHI SIENA, 75

FC Barcelona Regal (24+16+23+29): Marcelinho (7), Navarro (8), Eidson (22), Lorbek (17), N' Dong (15), cinc inicial,Sada (2), Vázquez (8), Wallace (7), Ingles (2) i Mickeal (4).

Montepaschi Siena (12+16+22+25): McCalebb (20), Kaukenas (10), Amadori (2), Stonerook (-), Andersen (12), cinc inicial, K. Lavrinovic (13), Rakocevic (11), Moss (2), Carraretto (-), Ress (2), Zisis (3)

Referees: G. Ziemblicki (POL), E. Viator (FRA), M. Vojinovic (SER). Desqualificats, Mickeal i Moss (min 17)

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