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Navarro, clau. FOTO: ÀLEX CAPARRÓS-FCB.

An important victory for Regal Barça against CAI Zaragoza in the Palau that keeps them up at the top of the table and helps maintain their confidence. The game was tough and equally balanced throughout. Faced with opponents who were playing to get into the Cup, Barça were up against the ropes going into the last minute. The collective effort, and Navarro's expertise from the free throw line, prevented the surprise.

Interior strength

That it was a much needed win for both teams could be seen with the concentration on the court. Barça Regal started the strongest, with Lorbek as their reference in attack (11-8). A partial of 7-2 put CAI in front (minute 8). It was a titanic struggle under the hoops. An Ingles triple gave the home side the advantage at the end of the first quarter (18-15). Despite getting into good shooting positions, neither side had a high success rate.

Navarro re-appears

The Palau exploded in the 11th minute with the reappearance of Juan Carlos Navarro. With him (and the invaluable help of Eidson), Barça gained fluency in attack. Five consecutive points from Navarro opened a small gap (28-24, min 15). However, CAI continued to do battle with Wright and Archibald outstanding. In fact, CAI went into the half-time break one point ahead (34-35).

End to end stuff

A triple from Hettsheimeir just after the break put the Palau on high alert. Lorbek assumed the responsibility and restored control for Barça Regal after a quick and dramatic transition, and a triple from Eidson extended the scoring streak to 8-0 (42-38, min. 34). The third quarter was the most vibrant of all. A sensational smash by Vazquez and Mickeal's aggressiveness were contagious, but Barça failed to open up a big lead (51-47).

Lots of Movement

CAI came back in the last quarter and took a slight lead, mainly due to the effectiveness of Wright (51-52, min 32). Emotions were running high, with constant changes on the scoreboard. Xavi Pascual kept moving his bench looking for the magic touch. He went for it with a short, but talented, five: Huertas, Navarro, Eidson, Mickeal, and Vazquez, but Barça didn't have much success from their long throws against the CAI zonal defence.

Vibrating last minute

Barça were forced to play the last four minutes without their leading scorer, Lorbek, out of the game after a basket and a foul in attack (59-58). The home side were looking for the win based on spirit, with the help of an enthusiastic Palau crowd. A triple from Cabezas with only a minute and fourteen seconds left put CAI ahead (61-64). A great basket by Mickeal and two free throws from Navarro turned the score around again with only 38 seconds left (65-64). Navarro, infallible from the free throw line, sentenced the match in what had been a really hard fought win for Barça.

MATCH STATS

FCB REGAL,   71
CAI ZARAGOZA,  68

FCB Regal: Huertas (2), Eidson (9), Mickeal (7), Lorbek (16), Perovic (7)-starting five-Sada, Navarro (17), Vasquez (6), Wallace (2), Ingles (5), and Rabaseda.

CAI Zaragoza: Cabezas (14), Wright (12), Stefansson (6), Hettsheimeir (8), Archibald (6)-starting five-Van Rossom (13), Almazan, Fontet (2), Toppert, and Aguilar (7) .

Referees: Garcia Ortiz, Murgui, and Cardús.

Partial Scores: 18-15, 16-20, 17-12, and 20-21

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