Lorbek, agaisnt Real Madrid / FOTO: ARXIU-FCB

At 20.45 this Wednesday, Reagl Barça and Real Madrid will begin their battle for the Lliga Endesa title with the first game of the play off series in a repeat of the 2006-07 final that saw Madrid take the title with a 3-1 series win.

Xavi Pascual’s team come into the final after a fine season that saw them reach the Final Four in Istanbul, finish the regular season with a 29-5 win record and end in top spot in the Lliga Endesa, as well as winning the Endesa Super Cup. Juan Carlos Navarro, recovered from his recent injury and back to his best, and Pete Mickeal, who averaged 10 points a game in the semis against Valencia, are Barça’s two in form players going into the Final.

Pablo Laso’s team have a 26-8 record over the regular season and, like Barça, have already won one title – the Copa del Rey. Point guard Sergio Rodríguez and forward Nikola Velickovic, are key players in Madrid’s arsenal, with averages of 11 and 17 points in the semi final against Caja Laboral.

Home advantage

As the top team in the regular season, Barça Regal will enjoy home advantage with the first two games – set for this Wednesday and Friday -played at the Palau and the fifth and deciding game, if needed, also at home.

The two have met four times so far this season, with two wins each, Madrid winning in the first game of the regular season and the Copa del Rey final and Barça taking the semi final of the Super Cup and also winning in the return league game at the Palau in the penultimate game of the regular season.

Mutual respect

Coach Xavi Pascual explained in his pre-match press conference: “we have maximum respect for them and now we have the chance to turn around the defeat in the Cup and take another title”. His opposite number Pablo Laso believes: “the team are mentally prepared to compete at the highest level - we are up against a team who finished top of the regular season table and that is a real challenge”. Meanwhile, the Barça Regal captain Juan Carlos Navarro stressed that: “it would be hard to finish the season without taking a title”.