Referees: Daniel Hierrezuelo, Antonio Conde and Benjamin Jiménez.
There will be a fifth match in the Finals of the 2011/12 Liga Endesa. Barça Regal denied Real Madrid the opportunity to lift the crown tonight as the Catalans went on to win 75-81 in the fourth match of the series, thereby wrestling away home-court advantage from Los Blancos and tying the series up to two games apiece. The title match will be played at the Palau Blaugrana this Saturday at 19:00.
The Azulgrana team went out onto the court of the Palacio de los Deportes in Madrid without Boniface Ndong, who was ruled out in the hours leading up to match due to a knee injury. The team started off the match with the goal of making sure the Senegalese’s absence wouldn’t be felt as they tried to slow down Real Madrid’s dizzying offence. Barça managed to achieve their goal as they were particularly solid on defence this evening, especially in the rebound department - where the Catalans fought for every ball.
A very serious Barça Regal came out onto the court eager to not repeat the same performance from the last match. It was also apparent that Xavi Pascual’s men had recuperated their shooting accuracy as well. In fact, Barça were knocking down three-pointers - two from Marcelinho and one from Lorbek- throughout the first 10 minutes of the game, this allowed Barça to get to the end of the first quarter with the lead (15-17).
But Real Madrid were playing at home, in front of their fans, and they didn’t want the chance of claiming the title to slip away. A 10 to 3 run from the home side marked the start of the second quarter and returned the lead to Madrid (25-22). That’s when CJ Wallace stepped up to the plate. The Barça Regal player was lethal from the three-point line as he scored three three-pointers to put Barça in front once again. A 0 to 9 run from the Azulgranas saw Barça open up a small gap of seven points between the two sides. Madrid, led by Sergio Rodríguez, weren’t about to give up and they made sure Barça didn’t run away with the scoreline. The teams went to the break with 34 to 39 on the scoreboard.
Lorbek leads Barça to victory
If Barça wanted to keep their title hopes alive in the Liga they had to win in Madrid. Marcelinho, Navarro, Mickeal, Wallace and Lorbek took the responsibility of guaranteeing a fifth a final match at the Palau on their shoulders and they didn’t disappoint. In the third quarter, Lorbek started his assault on Madrid’s basket - and finished the match as the highest scorer of the game- as he netted 24 points. His baskets allowed Barça to maintain the distance with Real Madrid, who were struggling to penetrate the visiting team’s defence.
In the fourth quarter, the Azulgranas took a 13-point lead, the largest of the game (60-73), but 6 straight points from Mirotic put Madrid back in the think of it with 1 minute and 11 seconds to go (74-79). However, unlike in the previous games, Xavi Pascual’s men remained calm and finished off the match with a very important victory that forces the fifth and final match of series.
On Saturday, at 19:00, the champions of the Liga Endesa will be decided at the Palau Blaugrana.