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Barça Regal back to their winning ways / PHOTO: ARXIU FCB

The arena, packed to the brim by 6,500 Bennet Cantú supporters, was ready for a big Euroleague basketball night. However, it was Barça Regal that qualified for the quarterfinals of the Euroleauge as Group H leaders. This is the seventh season in a row that Barça has qualified for the quarterfinals of the most prestigious continental competition. In fact, Barça has always qualified for this round since the Euroleague was inaugurated.

This Thursday, in the game that brought two basketball greats together, Xavi Pascual’s men managed to beat Cantú. The Catalans won on a court where Caja Laboral, Olympiacos, Maccabi and Gescrap Bilbao all lost. Until now, Fenerbahçe was the only team that managed to win at Cantú this season.

Intense first start

The game started with a very motivated Barça Regal. Basile, one of the best players in the Top 16, was the scorer of Bennet Cantú’s first two baskets, from that point on, Barça dominated. Pascual’s men showed their rivals that they wanted qualification by taking their lead from 5 to 10.

The game had a very intense first quarter and both teams were focused on controlling the defensive rebound. The Italian side’s newest addition, Doron Perkins, made his debut. The ex-Maccabi player, who was seriously injured last season, showed that he will be a good player for the Trinchieri this season. However, a very focused Barça Regal managed to jump to a 16 point lead. The home side reacted well, with active and cheering fans, and drew level with Barça on 18 points at the end of the first quarter.

Superiority in the paint

At the start of the second quarter, Vázquez and Perovic dominated under the basket and scored six consecutive points. Leunen scored the first basket for the home team in the fourth minute. The percentage of basket conversions went down for both teams thanks to the defensive prowess of both sides. Barça Regal wasn’t on form from the three point line and Perkins put his team on top (27-25). Barça did well to find alternatives and their incisive runs loaded the Italian side down with fouls. The team’s good conversion rate from the free throw line and a three-pointer from Navarro, who has scored a triple in eight consecutive Euroleague games, put Barça ahead at the half (33-35).

Nearly a 30 minute break

The second half was delayed, however, but when it finally started Bennet Cantú came out swinging with two consecutive three-pointers from Basile and Markoishvili. Ndong, once again, proved key on offence and defence and Barça Regal fought back and took the lead (41-44). A time out was called by Andrea Trinchieri and it broke Barça’s rhythm, the home team once again took the lead (48-46). Pascual, from the bench, quickly called a time out himself. Two straight baskets from Rabaseda closed the quarter out with Barça on top (50-52).

Close game until the final buzzer

The Italians started strong in the last quarter and they took their biggest lead of the night (58-52). It was a delicate moment for Barça, but the team reacted well thanks to Navarro and Ndong (58-59). After Maccabi beat Zalgiris (70-66), Bennet Cantú knew that they needed to win in order to qualify for the next round. The Italians upped their game and in the final minute of the match the score was 60 to 61. Trinchieri’s men could have won if Basile had scored his free throws with two second to go, but Barça ended up taking the match.

Important absences

Xavi Pascual couldn’t use Chuck Eidson, injured, during the match. And Bennet Cantú was missing Vladimir Micov, one of the Italian side’s best players, due to a last minute injury.

MATCH STATS

BENNET CANTÚ, 62
FC BARCELONA REGAL, 63

Bennet Cantù (18+15+17+12): Cinciarini (1), Basile (7), Markoishvili (6), Leunen (9) and Marconato -starting five- Shermanidi (14), Perkins (12), Mazzarino (5) and Brunner (8).

FC Barcelona Regal (18+17+17+11): Marcelinho (2), Navarro (12), Mickeal (6), Lorbek (10) and Ndong (13) -starting five- Rabaseda (8),Perovic (4), Sada (4), Vázquez (4), Ingles and Wallace.

Referees: Christodoulou (GRE), Lottermoser (ALE) and Piloidis (GRE).


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