After losing at the Fernando Buesa Arena on Wednesday, FC Barcelona were forced into a fourth playoff game to reach the Endesa League final but, at the second attempt, Xavi Pascual’s did so in impressive fashion.
The Catalans’ showed defensive astuteness and attacking quality to overpower a stubborn opponent and reach their tenth straight Endesa League final.
Keen to assert their dominance early on after losing out in the final moments of the previous match, Barça laid down a marker with two trebles from Doellman and Abrines in the first four minutes. The Basques attempted to halt the early pressure but the visitors were too strong, as Satoransky closed the first quarter to with a basket to give the team a ten-point lead (24-14).
A total of eight three-pointers saw Barça’s lead extend to 15 points, with five different scorers - Perperoglou, Arroyo, Oleson, Navarro and Doellman. A 47-31 half-time lead was a just reflection of the away side’s dominance, but with the recent meeting between the two sides as a reference, Barça knew they could not relax.
The half-time break did not hamper Barça’s momentum, as they continued to show superiority in all domains. While the three-pointers dried up, they still managed to increase their lead as Oleson and Tomic began to take centre stage. By the end of the third, it was 66-48, and looking ever more likely that Barça were heading to the final.
With the previous game fresh in the memory, Barça focused more on remaining tight at the back rather than putting more gloss on the scoreboard and, in doing so, managed to close out the game comfortably to qualify for the Endesa League final for a tenth straight campaign.