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FC Barcelona clinched victory right at the every end of a Sunday night thriller to go 2-0 in the ACB final series against Real Madrid. Nikola Mirotic was simply outstanding with his 25 points and Jan Vesely also made an immense contribution with 18. But with five players registering double figures this was mostly about the team's stunning all-round performance in a game full of ups and downs, and which looked to have slipped away before some brilliance in the final minutes set things up fabulously for the next two games, or hopefully just one game, over in Madrid.
Game three is on Tuesday. Win that, and Barça will be champions. If not, they will still have two more chances, one in Madrid and another back in Barcelona.
Barça spent the whole first period ahead, although the visitors were never too far away, and it ended with just one point between the sides (20-19).
The scoring was slower in the second, and both sides started making unforced errors. Led by an inspired Mario Hezonja, Madrid edged into what would become a 6-point lead. But the Catalans quickly cancelled that out and went in at the break four points to the good (45-41).
Based on offensive rebounds and sharp shooting from Nikola Mirotic, Barça expanded their lead, only for a 7-0 streak from the all-whites to undo all that good work in an instant. From there on, the points were exchanged without either side making a major impact, and we went into the last ten minutes with everything up in the air (68-65).
Barça defended their narrow lead for the first five, but then a Llul 3-pointer tipped the balance the other way. The pressure was getting to both sides and baskets were being missed that would normally be dead certs, and the upshot was that Madrid moved to +5 with three to play and were looking worrying likely to run away with the final minutes.
But Barça held firm. Solid defence was to thank for a 5-0 streak that set things up for a final minute in which absolutely anything could have happened. Two Llull threes could have been the final nail in the Barça coffin, but again Barça refused to give up, and two free throws from Laprovittola gave them a one-point lead with six seconds to play. Now they just had to stop Madrid's final attack.
Llul almost had it. But the blaugrana defence did what it had to do... the Palau erupted! It's 2-0 in the series, and now it's off to the Wizink Centre with the job done in the Catalan capital.
Barça: Vesely (18), Satoransky (4), Laprovittola (10), Abrines (2), Mirotic (25), Da Silva (2), Sanli (5), Kalinic (10), Kuric (-), Jokubaitis (10), Nnaji (-)
Madrid: William-Gross (5), Hanga (2), Tavares (13), Yabusele (9), Musa (2), Causeur (3), Fernández (-), Hezonja (18), Rodríguez (7), Poirier (11), Llull (15).
Periods: 20-19, 25-22 // 23- 24, 18-20
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