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Barça never lost belief in themselves and showed that they will always fight until the very bitter end. But there was nothing bitter about tonight’s ending when a team that many had written off completely ended up celebrating a glorious championship title. As always, the Palau gave them the edge they needed to overcome Madrid 83-81 in game four, and become Spanish champions for the 18th time, and the 15th time in the ACB era.
Nerves, tension and points
Real Madrid clearly wanted to test the referees. They started physical and questioned every decision. There were nerves out there, and it wasn’t long before a technical foul was given against a very irate Laso. The chaotic situation wasn’t helping Barça until Nachbar appeared to give them their first push ahead by making it 14-7. An immense, sensational Palau was in roaring form, and the first period ended with the home side in command at 25-19.
Madrid react in time
The second period continued with similar momentum, and Barça built leads of 38-31 and then 40-31. But two threes from Abrines changed everything, and it was time for others to rise to the impeccable level of Tomic and Navarro. And the first to do so was Huertas, with a three from the corner to delight the home crowd and send the score to 43-33.
Barça were flowing, and Tomic soon made it 45-33. But suddenly Madrid sprang back to life, and mainly thanks to some sloppy errors in offence, the kind of mistakes the all-whites will make you pay for, and a 2-9 streak got them back in the game. The half ended 47-42.
Thrills and spills
Madrid continued causing damage after the restart, and it was soon 49-47. Barça then reacted through Nachbar and Tomic to build their lead back to nine at 58-49, but then came one of the most surreal moments of the series. Madrid coach Laso, injured and unable to move much, got out of his wheelchair and started to protest vociferously at the referees, who ordered him away from the court. The mayhem seemed to do Barça good, and the free throws from Navarro made it 61-49. FCB had a good lead, but there was plenty of basketball still to be played.
Madrid seemed to play better without their coach, and on the half hour they had managed to claw back to within eight, 65-57. Barça had the championship in sight, but Madrid could still force the series into a fifth and final game on their home court.
Moment of weakness...
The excitement of being so close to clinching the title seemed to cause some wobbliness among the Barça ranks. Madrid pounced on the moment to get things to 71-67. And then some rather harsh umpiring led to a 2+1 for Mirotic. Incredibly, with three minutes to go, it was 73-72. Just one point in it.
...but up steps Lampe
Barça just couldn’t finish the job, and Llull was about to make them pay dearly. But Lampe blocked the basket and finished off a spectacular play by converting what looked like a championship-winning three: 79-76.
There were 21 seconds left and Madrid had the ball. Rodríguez missed a three then Abrines scored two free throws. A 3-pointer from Darden made it 81-79 with eight seconds to go, but two frees converted by an ice-cool Oleson eventually sealed it. Few pundits had expected Barça to win this final series, but the pundits don’t always get it right. 83-81, and FC Barcelona take the title!
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