Marcelinho Huertas scored six three pointers in the third quarter / PHOTO: VÍCTOR SALGADO - FCB

Marcelinho Huertas was the star of Barça's first victory in this season Euroleague Top 16 victory. The victims were none other than a great Panathinaikos side who started strongly but were eventually overwhelmed by a home side who put in an excellent performance, particularly in the third quarter. Six consecutive three pointers from Marcelinho gave the blaugranes the advantage which they never relinquished at home in the Palau Blaugrana.

Poor start for the blaugranes

The first quarter did not begin well for Xavi Pascual's team. The Greeks scored 10 unanswered points in the first quarter and left Barça chasing the game in the opening period. Panathinaikos boss Dusko Ivanovic instructed his side to prevent Barça from playing on the quick break and the tactic enjoyed success with the visitors leading by 14-20 at the end of the first period.

In the second period the home side began to improve even though at one point the visitors stretched their lead to 10 points at 24-34. However, seven straight points, including a three pointer from Abrines allowed the blaugranes to go in at half time level at 37-37.

Marcelinho the star

In the second half was when Xavi Pascual's men truly came into their own. Marcelinho Huertas was the architect of the comeback with 18 points after the break for a total of 22 in the game. Six consecutive three pointers in the third quarter served to inspire his team mates yet a valiant Panathinaikos never allowed the home side to build a substantial lead going into the final quarter.

Barça were able to manage their lead in the final period as their advantage steadied to between four and six points going into the final few minutes. Nevertheless, with just two minutes to go on the clock, Panathinaikos had reduced the gap to just a point at 77-76. The cool head of Marcelinho at that moment came to the fore with the MVP steadying the ship and allowing Barça to record their first victory in this season's Euroleague Top 16.

MATCH STATS

FC Barcelona, 80
Panathinaikos, 76

FC Barcelona (14+23+26+17): Huertas (22), Jackson (-), Thomas (4), Doellman (12), Tomic (9) - starting five -, Hezonja (11), Abrines (11), Satoransky (2), Pleiss, Oleson (5), Lampe (4), Nachbar (-).

Panathinaikos (20+17+19+20): Diamantidis (), Slaughter (), Gist (), Giankovits (), Batista () -starting five -, Charalampopoulos, Bochoridis, Fotsis (8), Nelson (16), Mavrokefalidis (7), Diamantakos, Blums (3).