Navarro, en un partit al Palau (Barça Regal) . FOTO: ÀLEX CAPARRÓS-FCB.

Barça Regal have revealed just how much they are improving in the second game of the Euroleague. Against a tough Lietuvos Rytas team, the Catalans were fantastic at the back and strong in offence. Other than the opening minutes and just before the break, they were always in control and sentenced things with a stunning last fifteen minutes. Navarro led the scoring with 13 points.

Dodgy start but quick reaction

It took more than two and a half minutes for either team to score, and it was Tomic who got the first points just as Lietuvos committed their fourth foul. But it was a slow start from Barça Regal, while the home side soon started getting into their stride (6-3, min 4). With Rabaseda not on court, Pascual’s side was looking especially uncertain with its 3-point attempts, but at least thanks to Lorbek they were soon starting to dominate on the paint. Things started improving for Barça Regal, especially when Navarro came on, and the first period ended with the visitors 8-13 ahead.

Navarro and Jawai magnificent

The intimidating presence of Jawai helped Barça gain control of affairs in the second period (12-17, min 13). They defended intensely and aggressively, and thwarted most of Lietuvos’ points. At the other end of the court, Navarro and Jawai combined to put Barça Regal nine ahead, but a couple of quick baskets from the home side closed the gap again to 17-21 (min 15). After a cautious start, the game has burst into life.

The local hero, Sarunas Jasikevicius, briefly came on in the 17th minute, but much of the fluidity of the Barça play was missing as the break approached. They were blocked on 25 points and the Lithuanians managed to draw back level before a last-minute score from Lorbek meant they ended the half with a slender lead (25-27).

Two crucial threes

Lietuvos worked their way back into the lead at the start of the third period (30-29). It took an incredible 24 minutes and 9 attempts for Barça Regal to finally get their first 3-pointer, which was followed by another almost straight after to silence the Siemens Arena (32-37, min 25). It was just the reaction FCB needed, with Navarro as decisive as ever. Within a flash Barça were ten points ahead (34-45, min 28) and the game was suddenly looking over. With some splendid play they were soon penetrating the home defence time and time again, with Marcelinho and Wallace particularly outstanding.

With the lead now hovering around 15 points, for Barça Regal the final period was a case of running down the clock and not making any foolish mistakes. This they did to perfection, never loosening their tight defence and leaving Lietuvos Rytas with a paltry 49 points at the final buzzer. Ingles converted the final Barcelona basket for his team to end on 67, a thoroughly deserved win that will work wonders for the team’s confidence.

STATISTICS

LIETUVOS RYTAS, 49
FCB REGAL, 67

Lietuvos Rytas (8+17+11+13): Blums (4), Seibutis (8), Jomantas (2), Samardziski (2), Katelynas (4) -cinc inicial-, Babrauskas (2), Radosevic (11), Nedovic (7), Ivanov (2) i Dulkis (7).

FC Barcelona Regal (13+14+20+20): Huertas (2), Ingles (11), Mickeal (8), Lorbek (9), Tomic (5) -cinc inicial-, Sada (-), CJ Wallace (7), Navarro (13), Abrines (2), Jawai (8), Todorovic (2) i Jasikevicius (-).

Referees: Luigi Lamonica (ITA), Emin Mogulkoc (TUR) i Petri Mantyla (FIN).