Right, so who gets to meet Kirilenko, Teodosic and the CSKA Moscow boys in the Euroleague championship game? FC Barcelona and Olympiacos will be duking it out for the privilege in about 15 minutes — does Olympiacos pull off the upset their rival Panathinaikos couldn’t or does Barcelona set up what has appeared to be a destined meeting all season? BallinEurope is live-blogging this one, too, so stick around for updates (below the break) over the next couple hours.
Pre-game. With 15 minutes to go, it’s obvious these fans have little on the Panathinaikos and CSKA Moscow bunches. If BiE can hear the dribbling during team warmups, it’s too quiet for Euroleague. Where’s the dude that says “Let’s make some nooooooooiiiiiiiise”?
Also of note: Barca is garbed in teal — crazy retro 90s look, man…
And yes, indeed, Juan Carlos Navarro will play today, plantar fasciitis issue or no. BiE’s betting much of Barca’s chances depend on La Bomba’s performance, however; how much time will he play and how effective can he be?
Olympiacos fans showing vim, vigor and gusto now … not many Barcelona backers in evidence, though.
In pre-game warmups, Navarro appears to be favoring that foot a bit and clearly not willing to test it too much.
First quarter. 10.00: Opening tip goes to Barcelona. Navarro tests the foot immediately with a runner in the lane, but misses.
9.15: Vassilis Spanoulis notches the game’s first points with a three.
7.50: And another three for Oly, this one by Evangelos Mantzaris; a rare starting bid for him.
7.09: Pero Antic adds two. Navarro is remaining mostly in place on offense and defense and has turned it over once on an errant pass already as well. Olympiacos, 8-0.
6.10: Nice penetration by Erazem Lorbek there, twisting and spinning to the basket, but Spanoulis answers. Olympiacos, 10-2.
5.31: Boniface N’dong throws down his first slam on the offensive rebound. 10-4.
4.53: Huertas with the dribble-drive for two in the paint. Juan Carlos Who? Barcelona cuts the deficit to 10-6.
3.20: Maybe Barcelona should slow things down in this game. Huertas orchestrated a nice feed to Pete Mickeal, who gets the two underneath and the and-one. Olympiacos, 13-9.
2.11: Swarming defense on both sides has resulted in turnovers on three of the last four possessions. This time, Lorbek commits the personal foul, though. Navarro comes out.
1.58: Spanoulis draws a nice foul on Victor Sada. He’s not afraid to take command of this offense, for sure.
1.23: Offensive rebound keeps the ball in Barca’s possession, but it’s stolen back anyway.
1.03: Nice for Olympiacos fans to see Georgios Printezis get involved. He slammed home a Spanoulis miss on the last possession, draws the foul now and hits both FTs. Olympiacos, 17-9.
0.42: Wow, who knew Sada had such hops? Follow-up slam out of nowhere to make it 17-11.
0.00: Kyle Hines was somehow left alone in transition, but the jumper misses the mark regardless. At the end of one, it’s still 17-11. BiE never figured these two teams would play in a grind-it-out slugfest, but there you have it.
Second quarter. 9.42: Kostas Sloukas with the first two of the second quarter. 19-11 to the Reds.
8.44: Navarro still isn’t back on the floor for Barca, but Joe Ingles is!
8.20: So much for Ingles; Navarro checks back in. And C.J. Wallace (!) hits for two. 19-16, Olympiacos.
7.06: BiE begins to wonder if Barcelona can win this sort of uglied-up match. Olympiacos is doing a fine job clogging up the paint on defense and getting into position for the offensive board.
5.50: A bit of a weird timeout taken by Olympiacos; maybe coach Ivkovic will pour some coffee. Or not. Barcelona still can’t get a rhythm going, but the Reds have got to stop settling for jumpers, which they have on the last four possessions at a 25% rate…
5.36: What was that about coffee? The fastest break of this match gets the Reds an easy layin. 24-18 to the Greek side.
4.54: Spanoulis works it in, throws it away. What th–?
4.20: And back to settling for jumpers. That was quick. And with Kosta Perovic hitting his first two, Barca gets it down to a two-point deficit at 24-22.
3.23: Nice offensive board by Perovic leads to a three from Navarro. 27-26 for Barcelona’s first lead.
3.07: …which evaporates thanks to a Spanoulis two. *Still* living and dying by the jumpshot. Oly up 29-27.
1.44: Huertas shakes and bakes all the way down the court, only to miss the layup; no matter, N’dong puts it back in. 31-29, Olympiacos.
1.09: Acie Law trips on the unhindered drive, draws the “foul” anyway. Needed the replay official there (Can’t believe BiE wrote that…)
0.26: Navarro not in at crunch time does not bode well for Barcelona…
0.07: Pero can’t beat the 24-second clock, but the resetting rebound gets the Reds the ball back — and an emphatic slam from Dorsey.
0.02: BiE has never seen the cheerleaders get less attention at a Euroleague game as this year. Ladies, BallinEurope still appreciates you…
0.00: Nothing doing for the Teal … i mean, Blaugrana. Or perhaps Tealgrana. At halftime, it’s 33-29. Instant flashback: the score after 20 earlier tonight was Panathinaikos 34, CSKA Moscow 32. And like that match, Barcelona has been taken off their style of play. In contrast, Barca has yet to enjoy anything like the 13-point run that got CSKA back in their game. They’re certainly spreading the wealth around nicely, with eight players already claiming points and Chuck Eidson not yet seen. Olympiacos, meanwhile, is playing beautifully in the halfcourt and disallowing the wide-open game. Twenty more minutes coming up…
Third quarter. 9.49: Olympiacos tries to get things going quickly, but Spanoulis loses the handle on the dribble. Killer swat on the other side by Hines…
8.59: Spanoulis redeems himself with a three. Big 36-29 lead for Olympiacos.
8.12: And another fast-break three makes it 39-31 to the Reds.
7.54: BiE’s liking the sudden point-a-second play here. This is what we expected. 41-33, Olympiacos.
7.20: Awesome mid-air collision looked like a clean block by Papanikolaou on N’Dong, but not. N’Dong sinks one of two FTs. 41-33 to Olympiacos.
6.30: Fran Vazquez is infusing some energy into Barcelona now … 41-35 to Olympiacos after a two.
5.28: The running game is working well for both sides — and the fans. Bad foul by Spanoulis on Navarro, though.
5.11: The back door from Vazquez to Mickeal in the paint makes it 43-39 and Barca’s running again…
4.24: Damn, Vazquez again. On the follow to close it to 43-41.
4.02: Printezis answers. 45-41.
Stat: Barcelona is just 2-of-13 on threes thus far.
3.12: Spanoulis is frustrated into a 24-second clock violation. A rarity in this high-flying quarter for sure. at the media timeout, it’s 45-41 to the Reds.
2.45: Lorbek with the one-hander in the lane again cuts the Reds lead to two.
2.21: But again the answer, a three from Papanikolaou, who’s everywhere tonight.
1.39: Acie Law’s 20-footer balloons the lead again to 50-43. The Navarro conundrum gets more interesting: Barca’s way faster without him tonight, but the FCB backcourt D is suffering, especially on switches. And the pick-and-roll — a.k.a. their bread-and-butter — has been virtually non-existent for the Blaugrana. 50-43, Olympiacos.
1.15: Law is getting stoked now, taking matters into his hands. Draws the foul there, but no bucket for Olympiacos. 50-45 to the Reds.
0.39: Smothering defense by Olympiacos, but Lorbek’s height allows him to grab his own blocked shot and follow it in the paint for two. 50-47.
0.28: As the cheerleaders perform during the break, the PA guy has cranked the music to drown out the Olympiacos contingent — and the warning buzzer, as well, just about…
0.18: Law again with the jumper. He misses, but Hines earns the drawn foul. Incidentally, Hines is looking more than a bit like a mini Sofoklis Schortsanitis. So call him “Baby Baby Shaq.”
0.00: And the third quarter ends with a whimper, not a bang. After three, it’s 50-47. Just one point gained by Barcelona.
Fourth quarter. 9.57: Still no Navarro for Barca and Law is still playing playmaker for the Reds. Spanoulis has quieted quite a bit in his ceding of duties.
9.39: Giviinig up the body works, though. Spanoulis sinks two FTs to make it 52-47.
9.18: Law leads the break, Antic finishes. 54-47 makes the biggest lead since the second quarter.
8.07: Early-substitute Navarro clocks the three, reducing the lead to 56-52, and then draws a foul. BiE can’t help feeling that Barcelona is going to lose this game — of course, this means that Barcelona is all but guaranteed to win this game.
6.37: With Law out, Spanoulis is back to ball-handling — and no results on two tripis down the floor.
6.05: Navarro can’t move laterally with Spanoulis, so Vazquez was actually over there last play.
5.50: Dorsey’s slam. A dagger in disguise? Olympiacos up, 58-54.
4.58: Wow, how was Navarro allowed the open land there? 58-56 to the Reds.
4.29: Printezis sinks the three, allowing everyone to see the lack of Olympiacos’ presence underneath, with Antic and Hines now out. No matter: Just keeping hitting. 61-56 and the miracle run may yet continue for the Reds…
3.56: Frustration? Mickeal’s hard foul sends Papanikolaou to the floor, to the line. After 1-of-2, it’s 62-56.
3.39: Nothing’s working for Barca at precisely the wrong time. Navarro was given another free pass through the lane, only to miss the running floater. A Barcelona foul and Xavi Pascual rapidly calls a timeout. Six points suddenly seems huge.
3.13: Vazquez had his way with the defense there, but misses a seven-footer … and Barcelona is beaten to another offensive rebound on the other end. What was once an uglied-up game has become simply an ugly game for the Blaugrana. Barcelona could well go the entire contest not scoring more than 18 in a quarter.
2.07: Olympiacos might have killed more clock there, but Law chucks up a three instead for the miss. Regardless, the hourglass sands are flowing against the Spanish side…still six points difference at 63-57.
1.56: Mickeal’s *first two points of the game* come from the line. 63-59.
1.46: Barca catches a break with a dubious offensive foul call on Law.
1.31: And another! Mantzaris, just in for Law, gets whistled. Navarro sinks both.
1.06: Says Nick of Euroleague Adventures: “This is it if he hits it.” “He” was Spanoulis. “It” was a three-pointer. He hit it. 66-61 to Olympiacos. Tick, tick, tick…
0.43: Spanoulis passes on a second three attempt, drives inside, finds Dorsey, who is questionably called for the foul on N’Dong. N’Dong hits one for a 66-64 game.
0.16: *That* time it worked. Nice one-handed dish by Spanoulis finds Dorsey, who fights through the hacking for two but misses the and-one. 68-64 to Olympiacos. Only the optimists are finding hope for Barcelona now…
0.16: Here it is. The 24-second clock is off, Barca ball on their end.
0.07: Nope. The Barca play was broken up before the inbounds pass. Huertas couldn’t find his target, got it to N’Dong, who jerked around a bit too much in the pain before the miss.
0.00: 68-64 is your final, and the crazy Olympiacos run continues. Nice to see a huge underdog in the finals, even if it means another BallinEurope Official Fearless Prediction™ going sour … congratulations to the Cinderella story of this year’s Euroleague playoffs!