Thrilling reverse (88-87)
FC Barcelona Regal missed out on taking their Euroleague game against Lietuvos Rytas into overtime when Ricky Rubio could not find the net in the closing moments of the thriller in Lithuania.
Fran Vázquez sank 27 points for the visitors but it was still not enough as the defending European
champions were beaten for the third time in the competition group stage this term. Each time the
Blaugrana pushed up and looked to take control of the game their opponents had a strong answer and
battled back to belie their standing in Group C. After going behind Barça did then look capable of
bouncing back but Rubio missed the third of three free throws and with time almost up Lietuvos were
able to celebrate a big win.
The home team showed their intentions from the start as they made a stunning start to the
game and surged into a 6-1 lead while Barça took three minutes to sink their first basket of the
game. With a record of 1/11 in front of the basket, Lietuvios were able to increase their
confidence and were 11-3 ahead after five minutes of the game. A time out was called by the
visitors' coach Xavi Pascual and he chose to make several changes which proved fruitful as the
deficit was reduced to 15-9 with eight minutes of the game gone.
The Lithuanian side were moving the ball around well and they produced plenty of
shooting opportunities and were able to head into the first turnaround with a 19-13 advantage. The
start of the second half saw Jasikevicius and Vázquez go head-to-head in an entertaining struggle
as one stood out for the hosts, controlling their play, and the other attempting to drive his team
forward and break down a difficult home defence. Juan Carlos Navarro came forward and helped Barça
to score nine points in quick succession to pull closer at 24-22.
Barça have been able to finish off opponents after a good period of play but on this occasion
Lietuvos did not drop back and instead saw Bjelica come to the fore to lift into an 11-point lead
at 40-29. Still Barça kept going and Víctor Sada sank a buzzer beater before the break and Pascual
was left to pick up his players with the score standing at 40-34.
Slovenian star Ezram Lorbek came on for the third period and helped Barça to a more
energetic start with the early exchanges going very much in their favour as they netted regularly
to pull to within two points, 48-46. For the first time in the encounter things were completely
turned around when the visitors took the lead, albeit briefly, at 50-52. Just as in the first half
though, the hosts fought back and Barça could not stop them once again as they quickly moved back
in front and by the end of the third quarter were 60-55 up.
The start of the last period looked to be decisive as the Lithunanian side scored
seven unanswered points and were 12 points clear, but Barça's defence regrouped and they pressed
forward to reduce that gap by nine, 75-72. Ricky Rubio then made the gap two and it stayed like
that as both teams added points from within the paint. A thrilling finale was set up when Rubio was
fouled with 2.2 seconds on the clock for a wild three. With Barça behind by three points Rubio took
the responsibility of taking the throws. After making the first two the youngster had the chance to
force over-time but his shot hit the rim and went out and the hosts celebrated.
Lietuvos Rytas, 88
REGAL FCB, 87
Lietuvos Rytas: El-Amin (11), Newley (2), Gecevicius (8), Nalga (8), Bjelica (19)
starting team-, Babrauskas (10), Johnson, Siksnius, Buterlevicius, Valanciunas (4), Jasikevicius
(11) y Bajramovic (15).
Regal FCB: Ricky (8), Grimau (2), Ingles (9), Morris (3), Ndong (4) - starting
team -, Sada (5), Lakovic (12), Navarro (6), Perovic, Vázquez (27) y Lorbek (11).
Referees: Belosevic, Boltauzer y Zamojski.
Quarters: 19-13 / 21-21 / 20-21 / 28-32