Navarro, in València (Photo: ACB)

Barça Regal had to suffer to maintain top spot in the Liga Endesa. The Azulgrana dominated the game for the better part of 30 minutes against Valencia, however the as the end of the game neared the home team threatened Barça’s lead. In the end, the Valencia’s urgency to tie the game and the extra concentration from Navarro, Perovic, and Eidson secured the victory for Barça Regal.

Offensive rebounds to Valecia and Navarro

The first minutes of the game were all Blaugrana. With a 4-10, it looked as though Pascual’s men were poised to rout Valencia, a 6-0 run from the home side, however, saw the scoreboard all tied up. From that point on Valencia would dominate the offensive rebounds. Navarro, scorer of 10 points in the first quarter was the only Barça player to be on form. It should be noted that Pascual had to change his initial game plans when Ndong incurred two personal fouls.

The local team was persistent in their bid to control offensive rebounds, Lischuck and Caner-Medley succeeded in asserted their dominance over Barça’s interior men. With Sada on the court and with Navarro’s three free throws, the Azulgrana reduced the home side’s advantage considerably. At the end of the first quarter the Valencia lead by a difference of only one point (19-18).

Extreme defence

In the second quarter, Pascual subbed in Rabaseda and Perovic. The absence of Ndong needed to be addressed, and Pascual’s solution of brining in the Serbian gave Barça Regal more consistency on the court. The Serbian scored a basket and Eidson scored six more points to give the visiting side the lead, putting Barça on a 0-8 run (19-26, min. 14). Despite having highly accurate shooters like Rafa Martínez or Nando de Colo, the Valencianos didn’t score for six straight minutes.

With 3.48 minutes to go, Barça’s advantage was increased 2 + 1 through an inspired Kosta Perovic (19-29). Only Rafa Martínez, with a tremendous shot, broke Barça’s run of 0-11. In final two minutes of the quarter, Barça managed their largest advantage of +14 over the home side (21-35). At halftime, both teams left the court with Barça leading 27-37.

Azulgrana Consistency

At the beginning of the second half Pacual introduced the same men that started the game: Huertas, Navarro, Mickeal, Lorbek, and Ndong. Even thought Valencia struck first with a 4-0 run, a Navarro three pointer, a bucket a piece for Lorbeck and Mickael, and another three pointer from Huertas saw Barça jump to their largest lead in the game (35-49, min. 24). With this advantage the scoreboard stayed within 10 to 15 points for the visiting side, a comfortable lead for Barça Regal. The Azulgrana’s managed to maintain their lead through stalwart defending; at the end of the third quarter Barça had a 13 point advantage (45-58).
Exciting finish

Final excitement

In the final quarter, Valencia played as if they had nothing to lose. The home team rushed to tie the game, but their over-zealous approach to the fourth quarter played into Barça’s hands. Barça once again jumped to a 16 point lead (47-63, min 32). With 6:47 to go, Eidson -who once against gave a lesson in basketball fundamentals- gave up his spot on the court to Juan Carlos Navarro, highest point scorer of the game at that point with 14 points.

In the final five minutes, a controversial call from the referee allowed De Colo’s shot to count even though Sada clearly had defended the shot. The basket meant that Valencia was on a 7-0 run (59-66, min.35). In the final stretch of the game the home crowd and team were excited to do battle with Barça Regal. Valencia came within three points of Barça (65-68, min 37), while Barça erred on the free throw line. Valencia’s hopes seemed to be coming true when Rafa Martínez nailed a three pointer bringing the home side within one point of Barça Regal (68-69) with a little over a minute to go before the end. Markovic had the chance to tie the game and force overtime, but his shot didn’t find its mark and a flagrant foul on Chuck Eidson saw Barça take the win. Final score 68-72.

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