A big final stanza pushed Barcelona past EA7 Milano 80-70 in a tough home clash as the Spanish club remained the only team in the Top 16 undefeated.
The Catalan club is sending a message around Europe with its current Euroleague form, moving to the top of the Group E standings with a 6-0 record. Surely the tests will come later in the tournament for Barca, but for the time being the team is looking classy on the continent and is in charge in the group. Indeed, the current club record for consecutive Top 16 wins continues to extend, with the number of wins now at 18.
After slipping to a Copa del Rey final defeat to bitter rivals Real Madrid on Sunday, Barcelona had to get back on track in the competition all clubs covet the most. Italian club EA7 Milano proved a worthy opponent but could not sustain the challenge for the whole game, the club now falls to 5th in the table with a 3-3 record.
The opening 2 minutes of the game were quiet as Barcelona notched one basket through Juan Carlos Navarro and Milan failed to register. When the Italians did get on the board through David Moss the scoring took off and the teams traded baskets with the lead never going above four points for either team. The visiting team had the better of the period though and managed to maintain a lead for much of the 10 minutes. At the end of the first quarter the Italians had a three point advantage at 12-15 after Keith Langford failed to extend the lead from beyond the arc.
Langford quickly redeemed himself at the start of the second by sinking his two free throws to make it a five point game (12-17). The away team maintained a five point cushion for the next two minutes, but two lay-ups from Victor Sada got Barca to within in 1 point at 20-21 with five minutes left in the first half. Sada was proving a thorn in Milan´s side as he added another three points as the hosts regained the lead at 28-25. Barcelona had weathered the EA7 storm and took a 10-2 run to take the initiative at 30-25. However, the visitors responded with their own 5-12 run to end the first half on top, with the score board reading 35-37.
It took over 2 minutes in the third quarter for the teams to score, with Daniel Hackett breaking the deadlock for Milan. Ante Tomic started the period well for Barca, but he could not prevent EA7 carving out a six point lead thanks to triples from Curtis Jerrells and Moss. Indeed, the Spanish team only scored six points in the first six minutes of the second half, with all of those coming from Tomic, who was keeping his team in the game. Alejandro Abrines got the Barcelona machine rolling again and the team outscored Milan 8-4 in the remainder of the third to head into the final stanza trailing by just one point (49-50). It had been a disappointing half hour for the Catalan club as it had managed just one score from three point range, but somehow the team was still in contention.
Barca started Q4 with two from downtown and added another after Samardo Samuels sunk a lay-up for EA7. The hosts were now in full flight and secured 16 points in the first five minutes of the quarter while restricting Milan to half that amount to take a 65-60 lead. Ante Tomic continued to pick baskets for the home team, and once again Marcelinho Huertas came on strong at the end of the game. However, it was Brad Oleson who clinched the win for Barcelona with 15 points in the final frame. While Langford tried to keep the Italian team in the contest he could not stem the flow of Barca baskets and the Spanish team clinched the win.
Oleson led Barcelona with 17 points, while Ante Tomic paced the team for much of the contest with his consistent 16 point haul. Keith Langford was behind much of Milan´s best plays and he led the team with a game high 18 points, with Samardo Samuels adding 14 and Curtis Jerrells scoring 12 points.