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26.11.2009 22:16

Outright leaders at Mens Sana (65-84)

Sònia de Alba

Barça’s basketball team is in a stronger position than ever after cruising to victory at Montepaschi. In a physical encounter, the Catalans won by 19 points.

They said this was the first big test of the Euroleague season, but Xavi Pascual’s side never looked troubled as they controlled possession and prevented the Italians from mounting a comeback. Montepaschi were beaten by 19, a score that also boosts Barça’s basket difference, and leaves them 5-0 and top of their group.

Cool play

GYI0059015727.jpgThis game was not going to decide anything definite, but the win will have a positive effect on the players’ morale. Pete Mickeal, the kind of veteran who thrives on games like this, opened the scoring, Montepaschi replying moments later with a Romain Sato three.

Regal Barça marked the pace – solid in defence, disputing every ball and soon moving into a five-point lead (10-15). Fran Vázquez, with three key blocks in the first period, was one of the most visible players early on.

But Lorbek, Morris and Mickeal also caused trouble for the Italians. And then of course, there was Ricky Rubio, who Mc Intyre was struggling to contain and scored one 3-pointer and a free throw to put his side +7 with 45 seconds left before the break, whereupon Mickeal made it +8 (34-42).

Italians cling on with free throws

GYI0059015700.jpgMontepaschi pulled things back in the second half, though mainly thanks to fouls, which were breaking the rhythm of a game that was often frustrating to watch. Nevertheless, the Siena based outfit was soon chiselling away at the 11 point deficit.

Jaka Lakovic silenced the home fans with a wonderful assist for Ndong to start the fourth period. The Senegalese sensation and Lakovic were particularly strong in the final ten minutes.

But as more and more fouls went against Barça’s interests, the likes of Sato, Zisis and Domercant converted and things were suddenly a lot tighter on 53-57.

Final climax

GYI0059015716.jpgRegal Barça still hadn’t made sure of the win, and after 30 minutes of defensive excellence, it was time for the offence to show what they were made of.

Morris scored 7 of the 9 points that seemed to seal the victory. Barça had sprung back to +15. Montepaschi had to throw caution to the wind, and two ambitious three point attempts by Mc Intyre found the target, causing Xavi Pascual to panic and call a timeout. Whatever he said, it worked, because Montepaschi were shut out for the next five minutes, and their only further scoring was from a couple of last minute free throws from Sato.

Barça ended the evening playing at ease. Boniface Ndong smashed home twice and Navarro, who had a quiet game, made his total 12 points with a three to end the game at 65-84.
Photos: Getty Images
Photos: Getty Images

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Montepaschi Siena (18+16+19+12): Mc Intyre (13), Zisis (9), Eze (6), Sato (13), Stonerook (2) – starting five – Domercant (10), Carraretto (-), Lavrinovic (6), Hawkins (6)

Regal FC Barcelona (20+23+18+23): Rubio (6), Navarro (12), Ndong (19), Morris (9), Mickeal (14) – starting five – Trias (-), Lakovic (7), Vázquez (10), Sada (-), Lorbek (7), Grimau (-)

Referees: Brazauskas (LTU), Viator (FRA) and Vojinovic (SRB)

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