By: Nick Gibson, Sam Meyerkopf and Rob Scott
The first quarter was tight, as Barcelona shaded it 17-13. After that, however, things got out of hand quickly. Different arena, same story for FC Barcelona in their own city, as Alicante never gave up but weren’t even on the same planet for the final thirty minutes and Barca bested Alicante 75-54.
Xavi Rabaseda had something of a breakout, with 16 points and a huge jam in the second half. Erazem Lorbek barely broke a sweat to lead all scorers with 17, as Barcelona delivered their regular weekly seminar in floor spacing, rim-protecting and ruthlessly efficient destruction.
Alicante’s bigs were physically overmatched inside and although Pedro Llompart put up 17 and 7 rebounds from the point guard position, his passing wasn’t incisive enough to create space for the bigs. Kaloyan Ivanov missed the first ACB matchup between these teams, but he wasn’t much more of a factor here either. Fran Vazquez and Boniface N’Dong didn’t just block shots, they destroyed them, the team finishing with 8 rejections in total. One from Vazquez in the first half on Lamont Barnes’ layup was felt through the whole arena. Alicante manned up and didn’t give in, winning the final period 19-13 but by then the game was long gone.
Why Barcelona Won
They have better players, better coaching, and they were playing at home. The recipe to Barcelona’s trouncing of Alicante could be as easy as that, but let’s at least try to dig a little deeper. Barcelona’s offensive and defensive systems turned the game into a man versus boys affair, but there was one guy in particular who really lit a fire for Barcelona tonight.
That man was none other than Fran Vazquez. He was an uncaged animal tonight, treating potential rebounds and blocked shots like the first pieces of meat he had seen in weeks. He raced to the basket after every screen he set and picked missed shots out of thin air, far above where any of his counterpart could soar. Many Barcelona players played well tonight, but Vazquez’s engine was the one that never shut off.
Why Alicante Lost
How much time you got? Instead of hammering my keyboard halfway to oblivion with lopsided stats—like Barcelona’s 50 percent shooting versus Alicante’s 34 percent—I will tell you that Barcelona is good. Very, very, at times unbeatably good.
While it doesn’t always make for excitement, Barcelona plays the cleanest offense of any team in Spain. Gamble and die. Rock back on your heels, and also die.
Play disciplined, team defense and probably die anyways.
And on offense, you’d better have a point guard who’s willing to dig his spurs into his teammates’ sides in order to get what he wants. Pedro Llompart played perfectly fine, especially under the circumstances, but he needed to be plain old perfect. Andy Rautins spent some time at the point as well and looked comfy enough, but it’s one thing to dribble with confidence and swing the ball around the horn; it’s something else entirely to penetrate and make winning plays against a defense designed to frustrate you.
Star Who Sucked
While Marcelino Huertas’ line of 2 points, 2 rebounds, 3 rebounds and 2 turnovers is underwhelming, it would be more accurate to call him a Star Who Didn’t Have to Do Much Else. Alicante’s ‘star’ is Kaloyan Ivanov, but is it fair to say he ‘sucked’ against such an overwhelming frontline? His performance, 9 points on 3/8 shooting and 3 rebounds in 25 minutes was disappointing, but to write of as ‘sucking’ is really to underestimate the constant barrage of big bodies he was up against.
Sucker Who Starred
Xavier Rabaseda has played in seven Euroleague games. In those games, he has amassed four points. Tonight, he had 16 in front of the biggest crowd he’s seen all season.
In a single night, Rabaseda undid more than half a season’s worth of uninspired basketball and salvaged his reputation as a prospect worth watching. Is that a stretch? I don’t think so. Because even as his stock has fallen—and don’t fool yourselves; it has—nobody has ever doubted his tools.
With some spectacular shooting and one thunderous baseline jam, he showed us he might know how to use them after all.
Xavier Rabaseda | G | Regal Barcelona
Everything was clicking for Xavi Rabaseda tonight (16 points). He hit almost every open jumper that confronted him, and then once his shot was dropping, he took his defenders right to the cup if they closed out too aggressively. He is a luxury weapon in the Barcelona attack, but tonight he killed Alicante every chance he got.
Rafa Freire | G | Lucentum Alicante
While I walked into this game beyond psyched to see Freire in action, once again my plan was thwarted. He didn’t even check in tonight, in a blowout loss. We’ll meet again sometime soon Rafa. You can’t elude me forever.
Sada Spares His Prey
Juan Carlos Navarro brought the ball up the floor and noticed the glint in Victor Sada’s eye. His backcourt partner sprinted down the baseline as Navarro threw a perfect lob. Exploding to the rim like Dwyane Wade, Sada soared and the crowd… groaned, then laughed a little. Sada fluffed the jam, and Alicante was spared a new level of embarrassment. Sometimes you have to hang onto the little victories.
Dumb Headline Pun(s) We Almost Used
Barcelona Can, Lucentum Alican’te
Kone Of Silence: Alicante Bottled up by Barca