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Navarro and De Colo. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.

The Liga Endesa semifinal playoff between Barça Regal and Valencia is level at 1-1 after the Che victory at the Palau Blaugrana this afternoon. The two teams went out to play their respective styles of basketball; Barça’s free flowing style against Valencia’s rough and tumble approach.

Barça quickly imposed their style on the game, with a start that was reminiscent to the first match of the series. Valencia’s reaction, when the team looked to be dead in the water, was enough to take a valuable victory at the Palau Blaugrana. With the next match scheduled to be played in Valencia, the reigning champions will have to win one of their two matches in away from home if the Catalans want to reach the final.

Identical start to the first match of the series

Concentration on defence, pace on the transitions and on-target shooting. These were the three characteristics that defined Barça Regal in the first match against Valencia, and today, at the start of the match, Barça’s style was similar. The Catalans took a 9-0 lead after 3 minutes of play, and Perasovic, extremely upset with his players, was forced to call a timeout. The home team players were scoring while only one visiting player, Faverani, managed to sink a shot (19-9, min 7).

The pace of the match was exhausting and with Rafa Martínez and De Colo on the court the dynamic of the match slowly started to change in the first quarter (21-14). Barça Regal, despite having Navarro on the court, lost its fluidity on both defence and offence.

Valencia fight back

Valencia’s improvement forced Barça to play a more physical match. The fight between the two sides was always most evident in the paint, with an intimidating Ndong emerging as Barça’s point man in the battle. Valencia, however, were dominating the offensive rebounds. It was Barça Regal players that were struggling to score (16-18, min 13). A 9-18 run brought Perasovic’s team within three of Barça Regal (30-27, min 16).

Barça tried to find the formula to overcome the visiting side’s defence. However, Rafa Martínez’s three pointers hit before Barça found it, and Valencia went to the break with a 37-39 lead.

Battle of the Titans

At the start of the second half, Barça Regal attempted to impose a faster pace of play, but Valencia did well to deny Barça’s game plan. The clash of the two styles was evident as both teams struggled to dominate on the court. Sada’s fighting spirit and the points from Vázquez (plus his 500th block in the ACB) were not enough to beat Valencia back (46-50, min 27). The visiting side had locked up their zone and they managed to preserve their lead thanks to Faverani. Both teams were scoring, but it was bad news for Barça Regal seeing that neither side were able to dominate.

Rafa Martínez kills the game off

The teams started the fourth quarter with 56-56 on the scoreboard. A 0-5 run from Valencia forced Barça to play catch up until the 34th minute. De Colo’s presence on the court was being felt - Huertas, on the other hand, was keeping his team in the game with excellent assists and on-target shots (65-63). The Brazilian, who was brimming with
confidence led his team to a 11-2 run. The end of the match was proving to be very exciting. Valencia quickly hit back with a 0-7 run (67-70, min 36). The visiting side were scoring from every possession and they knew they were close to the win.

Barça Regal were just three points adrift but a three pointer from Martínez, with 46 seconds to go, killed off the match (73-77). Huertas hit back but another brilliant basket from Martínez was the definitive blow. Navarro could have tied the game up, but his shot didn’t find the net. Therefore, Barça must win in Valencia.

MATCH STATS

FCB REGAL, 76
VALÈNCIA BASKET, 81

FCB Regal: Huertas (17), Eidson (4), Mickeal (12), Lorbek (9), Ndong (11) –starting five-, Sada (2), Navarro (6), Vázquez (5), Wallace (7), Ingles (3) and Rabaseda.

València Basket: Markovic (2), Martínez (18), Claver, Caner-Medley (7), Faverani (15) –starting five- Ogilvy (13), Newley (3), Pietrus (2), De Colo (16) and San Miguel (5).

Referees: Pizarro, Bultó and Cortés.


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