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PHOTO: ÀLEX CAPARRÓS - FCB

FC Barcelona Regal must win in Madrid in order to claim the title for the second year in a row. A difficult last five minutes of the match stopped the Azulgranas from travelling to Madrid with a 2-0 advantage in the final series. The Madrid zone defence and especially the visitors’ accuracy from the three point line did away with the fantastic performance from Erazem Lorbeck and a Barça Regal that had led throughout most of the match.

At the start of the match Barça Regal showed their capacity to learn from the past as the Catalans did well to not let Madrid get anywhere neat the 17-point lead they enjoyed in the match on Wednesday. This time, the Azulgranas tied up Madrid’s offence with a fantastic Fran Vázquez, who blocked two shots and forced a turnover. The visiting team looked to repeat the same type of game they had played on Game 1 by using Tomic and Velickovic’s.

Fantastic Navarro, killer Rabaseda

A fantastic play from Juan Carlos Navarro two minutes from the end of the the quarter gave Barça the lead (19-17) while Vázquez and Mickeal did well to impede Madrid’s three point attempts. A bit later, an amazing play from Xavi Rabaseda, in his first play of the game, brought the supporters at the Palau to their feet as he put Barça in front at the end of the first quarter (21-20).

Spectacular Lorbek

A 2+1 for Lorbek at the start of the second quarter got Barça off on the right foot. The Slovenian dominated the following 10 minutes, both in the zone and from the three point line. The Azulgrana was all over the court and, largely due to his efforts, Barça were able to stay level with Madrid, who were on fire from the three point line (29-29). Lorbek’s performance didn’t stop on offence, he also was decisive on defence. A block from the Slovenian on Sergio Rodríguez infused his team mates with a fighting spirit. Marcelinho Huertas, who resolved a one on one with Begic fantastically, knocked down a three pointer. The visitors hit back with Singler and Velickovic to leave the scoreboard level at 40 apiece at the half.

Barça opens the gap

The halftime break didn’t break Lorbek’s rhythm. The Slovenian hammered Madrid’s defence and led his team to the first real advantage of the night (48-40), forcing Pablo Laso to call timeout. The Real Madrid manager’s instructions didn’t change the flow of the game - Madrid were blocked on offence and Barça Regal were slowly inching away (52-43). Madrid tried to reduce the gap, but Navarro knocked down a three pointer to leave the visitors seven points adrift at the end of the third quarter.

Madrid fight back

The match seemed as through it was out of Madrid’s reach - even more so when Sada and Vázquez nabbed two rebounds in a row in the first play of the last quarter. Madrid were down to their last chance and even though a three pointer from Sergio Rodríguez brought Madrid closer, Lorbek quickly reestablished the nine-point lead (65-56).

Everything changed from that moment, however. Two three pointers in a row from Rodíguez put Madrid right back in the think of it. It was Barça that struggled both on offence and defence. The fightback was complete with two more three pointers from Mirotic and Carroll. Navarro tired to bring his team back, but it wasn’t to be. Madrid tied the series up 1-1 which forces Xavi Pascual’s men to win at least one match in Madrid to keep their title hopes alive.

MATCH STATS

FCB REGAL, 69
REIAL MADRID, 75

FC Barcelona Regal (21+19+16+13): Huertas (10), Eidson (), Mickeal (10), Lorbek (22), Vázquez (11) -starting five- Navarro (11), Sada (-), CJ Wallace (1), Ingles (2), Ndong (-), Rabaseda (2).

Real Madrid (20+20+9+26): Llull (5), Suárez (3), Syngler (8), Velickovic (5), Tomic (12) -starting five- Pocius (2), Reyes (6), Rodríguez (14), Carroll (10), Mirotic (10), Begic (-),

Referees: Daniel Hierrezuelo, Emilio Pérez Pizarro and Benjamín Jiménez.


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