Barcelona, Red Star keep alive Euroleague playoff hopes
By Zoran Milosavljevic
BELGRADE (Reuters) - Double former champions Barcelona and high-flying underdogs Red Star Belgrade boosted their hopes of reaching the Euroleague knockout stages after impressive wins on Friday.
Barcelona romped to an 82-66 home win over Greeks Olympiakos Piraeus, who have three titles, while Red Star were unfazed by a venue switch in their 91-82 defeat of Anadolu Efes Istanbul.
Under pressure to deliver, Barcelona produced their best performance of the season, improving their record to 4-4 as Olympiakos slipped to 3-5.
A fired-up Barca outscored Olympiakos 52-28 in the second and third quarter before the visitors salvaged some pride with a late rally.
"We did a great job today and this is how we need to play for the rest of the season," Barcelona coach Xavi Pasqual told Euroleague television courtside.
Red Star, aiming for their first knockout stage berth, had to vacate the cauldron of their Pionir Hall in Belgrade, which is being prepared for next weekend's Davis Cup tennis tie between Serbia and Kazakhstan.
It looked like the move to the less intimidating Millenium Hall in Vrsac, 90 kilometres north of the capital, would play into Anadolu's hands as they conjured a 46-38 halftime lead.
Roared on by several thousand traveling home fans who flocked into the quiet city close to the Romanian border, Red Star stormed back after the break. Continued...