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Oleson was decisive in the final period. PHOTO: V. SALGADO -FCB

Josep Maria Bartomeu wacthed the game from the presidential box. PHOTO: V. SALGADO - FCB

Watched by president Josep Maria Bartomeu, a big basketball fan, FC Barcelona made it 6-0 in their Top 16 group and also set a tournament record of 18 straight wins in this stage of the competition. The game was as difficult as head coach Pascual had predicted and was ultimately decided by 3-pointers in the final quarter – a win that puts the cruel blow of defeat in the Spanish Cup Final behind the FCB players.

Sada changes pace

The game started slowly, with some sloppy errors from both sides. Barça struggled to cope with the well-structured and aggressive Milan defence, while the Italians found it hard to get into their rhythm, although the first period ended with them 12-15 ahead.

Then Sada made his move. His strength and speed started winning points and he was largely to thank for finally getting FCB in command at 32-31. Unfazed, the visitors kept fighting and were back in the lead by the break, at 35-37.

Samuels dominates the zone

Emporio Armani then got two consecutive threes to extend their lead – one from Jerrells and one from Moss. Barça didn’t flake at 39-45, and turned to Tomic’s flair to get back in contention. But the visitors were unperturbed by the atmosphere in the Palau, and the corpulent Samardo Samuels caused enough damage on the paint to keep his side ahead (43-48). Barça’s Huertas and Dorsey led the counter-charge, but the third period still ended with them trailing at 49-52.

Threes and Oleson to win

Three consecutive 3-pointers from Huertas, Oleson and Papanikolaou flung Barça back into the lead (58-54). At last they were finding their feet in attack. Daniel Hackett was defended out of the game and Oleson took advantage of the moment to score five consecutive points to make it 65-60 with five to play.

The final minutes saw Tomic at his best as Barça finally built up their first meaningful lead (68-60). From there it was just a question of playing against the clock, with Oleson getting 15 points in the final period to set up what was ultimately an 80-70 win.

Match stats

FCB, 80
Milan, 70

FC Barcelona: Huertas (9), Navarro (6), Papanikolaou (3), Lorbek (4), Tomic (16) --starting five--; Pullen (-), Dorsey (6), Sada (7), Abrines (7), Oleson (17), Nachbar (5).

Emporio Armani Milà: Jerrells (12), Hackett (9), Moss (5), Wallace (3), Lawal (6) --starting five--; Gentile (-), Cerella (3), Melli (-), Kangur (-), Langford (18), Samuels (14).

Periods: 12-15, 23-22, 14-15 y 31-18.

 

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