Barça Regal brushed off its defeat in the Endesa Super Cup with a convincing win over Força Lleida in the semi-final of the Catalan League. Lleida fought hard but Barça pulled away at the end of the first half. Xavi Pascual’s men took this afternoon’s match seriously and the Azulgranas’ interior play marked the difference between the two sides.
Barça Regal started off with a completely different starting line-up to the one Pascual sent out 48 hours ago against Real Madrid. Jasikevicius, for example, was among the starting five on the court for Barça. Força Lleida started the first quarter brilliantly with fast ball circulation and concentration. In fact, Lleida had the lead within the first five minutes of the match (4-8). The Azulgranas, however, were relying on their superior physical strength in the paint to stay in the game (13-13, min 7).
Jawai turns up the heat
All of Barça’s points were scored from interior play, with Jawai as the target man for the Azulgranas (24-23, min 14). Pascual started putting fresh men on the court, and Lleida struggled to keep up with the pace. Força Lleida were too dependent on their shooting from the exterior, and a 6-0 run forced Joaquín Prado to call time out. Barça had taken the lead 30 to 24.
A fantastic three-pointer from Abrines, the team’s first, gave Barça its first 10-point lead. Another from Jasikevicius at the buzzer put Barça up 38-24 at the break. Barça’s better defence, combined with Lleida’s poor accuracy, had given the Azulgranas a 14-1 run.
Despite the scoreline, Força Lleida didn’t give up. The visiting side gave it one more go at the start of the second half as they came within 11 of the their rivals (41-29, min 23). Nevertheless, Barça’s defence kicked into gear and stopped the fight back in its tracks. Pete Mickeal and Jasikevicius took control of the Barça’s attack as the Azulgranas jumped to a commanding 55-36 lead on 26 minutes.
Pascual sends in fresh legs, Abrines scores
The Barça Regal players maintained their 20-point advantage in the last quarter of the semi-final. Abrines was given more time on the court as Pascual sent in every player at his disposal - with the exception of Navarro. The new Barça Regal signing scored eight consecutive points.
The Mallorca-born player, Tomic and Jawai were the highest scorers of the match, with 14 points apiece. The game came to a close with a scoreline of 80 to 60 in Barça’s favour. Joventut or Manresa will face the Azulgranas in the final this Wednesday.