No miracle, but prestigious win (73-72)
There was in the end no miracle and despite beating leaders Montespachi, with a much improved performance, Xavi Pascual’s team didn’t make second spot in their group as Fehenbache beat Cholet in Istambul.
Even though they had top spot secured, the Italians were never going to come to the Palau with
anything but total commitment and this waste their chance to send a message out to the rest of
Europe that they were real challengers for a Final Four spot – what better way than to beat
the current champions on home turf?
Simone Pianigiani’s team imposed their rhythm on the game for the first half, but Regal
Barça knew that only a win would give them a slight chance of making the second spot and came back
with a great third quarter performance that helped them to a narrow one point win.
More fitness problems
With Lakovic not fully fit and Ingles with fever, as well as their
other long term injuries, Regal didn’t start too badly, but found it hard to hit their full
stride. Despite hard work from Perovic and Lorbek under the baskets and great leadership from
Navarro, the hosts were soon lagging behind on the scoreboard.
There wasn’t a big difference, but Regal couldn’t cut it back, as McCalebb, Zisis
and Hairston hurt the hosts and although Perovic and Vazquez were also on target, Barça were
finding it tough going.
A score from McCalebb closed the first quarter at a worrying 13-17 and at the start of the
second, the Italians opened up a 10 point lead with six quick points. Barça pulled back, despite
losing 12 possessions before the break and managed to go just six points behind at the break
Third quarter improvement
Despite the bad news filtering through from Istanbul, Barça lifted
their game in the third quarter and with a much more intense defence they notched up 10 points
without reply in the first three minutes to take the lead for the first time since going 4-2 up at
the start of the game.
A three pointer from McCalebb spurred Siena back and they soon recovered their aggression in
defence, with Rakovic outstanding and the quarter saw some of the best basketball as the two teams
slugged it out with the lead constantly changing hands.
Close to the end
Barça went into the last 10 minutes with a narrow 56-55 lead and
everything was still to play for. McCalebb (20 punts) again lifted the visitors, but Grimau’s
character, Lorbek’s courage and the collective determination to win were enough for Regal to
hold onto their slight advantage, crowned with a coast to coast from Ricky with 6 seconds left.
Second place wasn’t to be, but the team showed a marked improvement as they head into the