Fight back, Clásico and leaders. Barça Regal experienced one of those famed magical nights at the Palau this evening. The team beat Real Madrid by a slim three-point margin (86-83) in a game where the home side trailed by 13 points in the second quarter. A timely three-pointer from Navarro in the dying minutes of the first half and a stellar performance from Ndong in the last 10 minutes of the game allowed Barça Regal to complete an epic comeback against old rivals Real Madrid. Therefore, the team have secured the top spot in the regular season, which means that the Catalans will have home-court advantage going into the play-offs.
Fast advantage for Real Madrid
Madrid came out swinging at the start of the first quarter. Los Blancos quickly took a 8-16 lead at the start, only Chuck Eidson had scored for the home side. Xavi Pascual’s men, who were struggling to penetrate Madrid’s defence, were relegated to shooting from the perimeter. Barça ended up paying the price for their low conversion rate. Madrid, without Singler (who committed two fouls in the first minute), scored 28 points in the first quarter. Barça had conceded too much ground.
A question of character
The referee ruled that Navarro had travelled and an unsanctioned foul on the Barça player in the first quarter fired up the Palau Blaugrana, the supporters did not stop cheering their team on throughout the game. After the second incident, Pascual was penalized with a technical foul. In the middle of a hostile atmosphere, a brilliant Pete Mickeal stepped up to carry the team. Madrid, who were led by Tomic (he finished the half with a 20+ overall evaluation), were struggling to dominate the defensive rebound.
With a little less than three minutes to go before the half, Madrid opened up the biggest gap of the night (13+ points, 34-47). Barça’s reaction was led by Mickeal and a spectacular Navarro, who sunk a fantastic three pointer in the dying seconds of the first half. It was a psychological blow for Madrid: 42-48.
The most complicated phase of the fight back was at the start of the second half. Eidson was Barça Regal’s key man on the court in the first minutes after the break. He scored the first five points of the third quarter. The points, however, were insufficient to come within striking distance of Madrid, especially with Singler and Carroll on the court. At this point in the game, the biggest achievement for both sides was that neither Llull (4 points) nor Ndong (0 points) had made much of an impact. 61-88 was the scoreline with 10 minutes to go .
Stellar Ndong and Navarro
Ndong and Navarro brought their team within three points of Madrid (73-76) with seven minutes to go before the end. Navarro’s job was particularly difficult seeing that he had to defend Carroll -who was then picked up by Sada - who scored two three-pointers at the start of the first quarter. 19 points were scored between Ndong and Navarro of Barça’s 25 points in the last quarter. The brutal joint performance allowed Pascual’s men to take the lead for the first time since the first quarter with six minutes to go.
At this point in the game, both teams were tied at 82 apiece, and a giant stepped up to bury Madrid: Fran Vázquez. The player scored two free throws, a dunk and wrangled a rebound that completed the comeback. The victory secures top spot in the League for Barça Regal in the regular season. The Palau went wild.