L'eliminatòria de semis comença avui al Palau / FOTO: ARXIU FCB.

The competition is entering its final stage. Barça Regal and Valencia Basket will open up the semi-final round of the Liga Endesa this evening (21:45, Esport3) at the Palau Blaugrana. The matchup comes at a good time for both the teams: Xavi Pascual’s men have won 12 consecutive matches (10 in the regular season and 2 in the postseason) and Velimir Perasovic’s men are in the semi-final round for the first time in nine years.

Defence and rest

Both the teams qualified for this round thanks, in part, to their excellent defences. Barça Regal have the best defence of the competition (65 points conceded per match), while Los Che have the fourth-best defence of the Liga.

In the quarter-finals, however, Barça Regal had an easier time securing qualification to the semis. The Catalans swept Lucentum Alicante (2-0), while Valencia battled until the last minute of the third match against Lagun Aro to make it to the semis. For this reason, Barça Regal come into the first match more rested than their opponents.

Just as he did before the quarter-final series, Pascual said that Navarro is doubtful for the opening semi-final match tomorrow. “If he plays, he will be below his normal level,” said the manager. It’s worth noting that the ex-Valencia player Kosta Perovic has been dropped from the team for the playoffs.

History on Barça’s side

The Azulgranas have beaten Los Che in the two matches they played this season. In both cases Barça won by four points (68-72 in Valencia and 76-72 at the Palau). Historically, in the playoffs, Barça Regal have beaten Valencia five times. The Azugranas swept Valencia Basket 2-0 in the 2008/09 season and 3-0 in the final of the 2002/03 season. Curiously enough, Valencia have been defeated in their last nine visits to the Palau Blaugrana. It’s vital to stretch Valencia’s losing streak in Barcelona to 10 matches to start off the semi-finals on the right foot.

Tribute to the Junior team

Before the semi-finals get underway, the Barça Regal junior team will offer up the Spanish Championship won in Zaragoza on Saturday to the Palau. The Azulgranas beat Joventut 66-61 in the final. The Barça Regal junior team have won the competition three times in a row.

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