By Rob Scott / @robscott33 – Friday 7 February, Malaga, Spain
The fourth game in two days of a frantic Copa del Rey will always struggle for attention, especially following a classic like the one that immediately preceded it. That FC Barcelona ended up winning 102-60 over a depleted and outclassed Iberostar Tenerife meant that the mood was anti-climactic indeed. The spirit of the Copa headed to Malaga’s Centro district, transformed into Vitoria-Gastiez-Sur, as captured below by our friend Jon de la Presa.
Barça led early, opening up the game on an 8-2 run as Erazem Lorbek found his range popping out for a three. Tenerife responded with a triple by Uriz and embarked on a 7-2 run to draw back to 10-9, but it’s no exaggeration to say that is as good as it got for the Canary Islanders. A Papanikolaou lay-up plus the foul featured in an 8-0 run to go back up by 18-9 and a 22-16 lead at the end of the first quarter was as comfortable as a 6-point lead could be.
Joey Dorsey must have been itching to get on the floor against an undersized and unathletic Tenerife frontline, and he didn’t waste any time making his mark on the rim. A ferocious tomahawk dunk from a baseline cut was a highlight, and when Dorsey wasn’t trying to pull down the rim, Brad Oleson made threes, moved the ball intelligently and did the things that Brad Oleson does. By halftime, the lead was up to 54-34, Barcelona having put up a 32-18 quarter.
After halftime, the game over as a contest, Barcelona enjoyed a relatively uneventful 21-14 third quarter. Continuing to spread the offense around, highlights were few and far between. Not that Barcelona played badly – they played extremely well, but the basics of ball movement and good shooting were enough to extend their already sizeable lead. Navarro hit a couple of sidestep-and-swish threes, and Alex Abrines, still booed and whistled by the Unicaja fans dotted around the stands for his messy exit, showed off his athleticism to hang in the air on a baseline jumper long enough to get fouled and sink the shot.
The arena was subdued as the clock ticked down towards Barça’s inevitable victory, fans and reporters already looking ahead, first to how they would get home in the midst of a city-wide taxi drivers’ strike, and then to the prospect of a real test for the Blaugrana, against a Valencia team exponentially more physically tested and mentally drained from their evening’s efforts.
Tenerife, shorn of their go-to player following the departure of Blagota Sekulic to Fenerbahçe, were tentative, and unable to compete physically with a stronger, quicker and much more talented Barcelona team. Of the remaining roster, only Nicolas Richotti and Saul Blanco average double figures in points, and it looks like it will take more than the addition of a 33-year-old Lazaros Papadopoulos to keep them in playoff contention.
This was the only real mismatch of the quarter-finals – even Gran Canaria were able to give Madrid some problems in individual matchups. The game dwindled to a close without anybody really following it too closely. Late on, Dorsey grabbed a loose ball at half court and was revving up a Lebron-in-the-open-floor moment when the refs called a transition-stopping touch foul. With Barça up by 32 at the time, it seemed a needless – but correct – spoilsport move.
Barcelona put up 102 points and nobody played more than 19:59 or scored more than 13 points. They will surely be the all the fresher for the walkover and ready to face Valencia – likely without Serhiy Lishchuk – in what already looks likely to be a classic semi final.
Why Barcelona won
Their players were significantly more talented at every position.
Why Tenerife lost
A star on each team
FC Barcelona: Brad Oleson did most of his work early on, when the game still had to be won. His impact on the team since his return has been significant, in keeping the ball moving when Huertas sits, and in chasing his man round screens. He’ll have to do more of that as this tournament goes on.
Iberostar Tenerife: It’s tough to choose anyone, but Ricardo Uriz top scored for his team with 12 points and hit 2-of-3 from behind the arc, so we’ll say him.