Barcelona holds firm to overcome spirited ALBA
FC Barcelona took another step towards securing homecourt advantage in the playoffs by gaining a hard-fought 80-84 victory over ALBA Berlin in the German capital. Barcelona moved into a first-quarter lead, but ALBA bounced back to dominate the second quarter and led 46-38 at halftime. The visitors responded with a 2-16 charge in the third and the fourth quarter saw several ties and lead changes before Barca enjoyed the better of the closing stages. Alex Abrines led Barcelona’s scoring with 17 points, making 6 of his 7 field goal attempts. Malcolm Delaney scored 16 points, Nikola Mirotic scored 14 and Cory Higgins paired 13 points with 7 assists. Luke Sikma paced ALBA with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Martin Hermannsson top-scored for the hosts with 17 points. Landry Nnoko added 12 points and Marcus Eriksson scored 11 against his former club. Barcelona improved to 21-7 on the back of an eight-game winning run, while ALBA dropped to 9-18.
Hermannsson scored twice in the early stages, and a slick layup from Sikma kept ALBA moving until Adam Hanga’s three-pointer and Higgins's fadeaway jumper made it 6-10. Johannes Thiemann stroked the home team’s first triple, but free throws stretched the visitor’s lead. Nnoko scored twice from close-range before Delaney and Jonas Mattisseck exchanged deep strikes. Brandon Davies dunked and Delaney made a layup to make it 18-27 after 10 minutes. Mattisseck’s corner three and Nnoko’s jump hook and transition layup saw ALBA start the second quarter fast before Delaney’s three got Barca moving again. Kenneth Ogbe’s deep strike tied the game at 30-30. Kyle Kuric responded from beyond the arc and after a slow period of scoring, Eriksson gave ALBA the lead, 34-33. Kuric’s dunk was bettered by Sikma’s three-pointer. A pair of Hermannsson’s driving scores maintained the lead before Tyler Cavanaugh’s triple stretched the advantage to 46-38 at the break.
Ante Tomic and Nnoko were on target early in the third before Eriksson’s deep strike and long jumper sent ALBA to a double-digit lead, 53-42. Abrines scored from deep, Mirotic made a mid-range strike and Higgins dunked as Barca bounced back before Abrines added a putback and Higgins followed a jumper with a layup-plus-one to secure a 55-56 lead. Mirotic capped the 2-16 run from the foul line before Thiemann got ALBA moving again. Eriksson made his third triple to make the lead change hands, but Barcelona grabbed it back again and Delaney beat the third-quarter buzzer for a 62-66 lead. Sikma’s three-point play opened the final stanza and he then split free throws for a 66-66 tie. Free throws sent ALBA ahead again, but Abrines scored more triples for a 73-74 lead. Niels Giffey’s putback sent the hosts back in front before Higgins and Nnoko traded close-range scores. Abrines scored again for a 77-78 lead with 2 minutes left and Delaney gave Barcelona breathing room from deep. Hermannsson gave ALBA hope, but Nnoko missed a chance to tie the game and Tomic split free throws, making it 79-82 with 20 seconds left. Sikma split his free throws and Kuric added a layup to secure a hard-fought win.
Second-quarter woes for Barcelona
After blasting 27 points in the first quarter, Barcelona could only net 9 in the second quarter. The visiting team made just 3 of its 14 field goal attempts during that period, committing 7 turnovers in the process.
ALBA struggles after the break
ALBA had a similarly tough time in the third quarter, only scoring 9 points in the first 8 minutes as Barcelona produced a strong revival. After moving ahead by double digits, 53-42, the home team only scored one basket in more than 5 minutes as Barca made a 2-16 spurt to take control.
Fluctuating fortunes in the fourth
It was anyone’s game in the fourth quarter, which saw 9 lead changes and 3 ties before Barcelona moved ahead for good with a big dunk from Alex Abrines with 2:15 remaining. ALBA was ahead for 3:18 of the last 10 minutes, but couldn’t quite get the job done.
Bench boosts Barca
Barcelona was boosted by its bench, which outscored the starting five 45-37. Alex Abrines (17 points) and Malcolm Delaney (16) were the main contributors, with Kyle Kuric (9) also playing a big part.
Barcelona has another German test on Friday night with a visit from FC Bayern Munich, while ALBA faces another Spanish opponent with a journey to take on KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Wednesday, March 4, 2020