The Fernando Buesa Arena hosted the two champions of the last five Liga Endesa seasons. Barça Regal came into the match in Vitoria with an impressive winning streak but the Catalans found themselves up against a Caja Laboral team that was determined to stop Barça’s seven-game streak. Xavi Pascual’s men picked up their third defeat in the domestic competition and now they’re three wins adrift of the top spot of the table.
Strong start, weak finish
Barça Regal came out at the start with Marcelinho, Navarro, Ingles, Lorbek and Tomic against Caja Laboral. It took the visitors two minutes to score their first points, and it was a three-pointer from the captain. From that point on, Pascual’s men had an easier go it making it to the basket, forcing Ivanovic to stop the match halfway through the first quarter with a timeout (4-13). After San Emeterio and Cabezas came in, Caja Laboral were much more aggressive but Navarro, with three three-pointers in a row, and Lorbek, with seven points in the first 10 minutes, allowed Barça to finish the quarter with a three-point lead (17-20).
A quick turnover forced by Causeur at the start of the second quarter started a 13-point run for the home team 21-20). Caja Laboral, urged on by the home crowd, took a five-point lead over Barça Regal (29-24), forcing Pascual to call a timeout. Lorbek and Jawai started to go to work in the paint but Caja Laboral dominated for the rest of the quarter (44-35). Barça Regal needed to shore up its defence if it wanted to have a chance to regain the lead.
False alarm for Navarro
Lorbek and Navarro took charge of the team at the start of the second half and they managed to bring Barça within six of their rivals (49-43). The reaction from the visitors was squashed as the home team took an 11-point lead. In addition, with two minutes left in the quarter, Navarro had to abandon the court after hurting his ankle while playing defence. Without the captain, Barça Regal leaned on Wallace, who kept his team within striking distance of Caja Laboral (60-54).
The last 10 minutes started off with a couple of baskets against the reigning champions of the Liga Endesa. Navarro was well enough to return to the court and Pascual urged his men to focus on the fight back. Barça Regal struggled to stop Caja Laboral’s attacks – with Lampe, San Emeterio and Oleson leading the way – and in the end it was too much as the Blaugrana’s winning streak was not allowed to continue.