Xavi Pascual is a happy man this Thursday. His Barça Regal beat Real Madrid at the Palau Blaugrana (86-83) thus mathematically ensuring first place in the regular season. “It was an important victory and it especially pleases me because the Palau represented the fans really well this evening,” he said.

Nervousness in the first half...

The manager was critical of how his team played in the opening 20 minutes of the match: “we started off a bit nervous and we were insufficient both on offence and defence. Suddenly, being 10 points behind, we were too impatient to make a comeback, which made Madrid more comfortable than us. At this point in the game, Mickeal helped us tremendously and he kept us alive.”

...brilliant reaction in the second half

In the second half, however, Barça’s brilliant reaction took center stage. “Everything changed in the second half. Offensively we were more or less on target, but we always found the shot. We were commanding the rhythm and, in the last quarter, we were perfect, with the exception of the five missed free throws. The rest, perfect,” said Pascual.

New objective: The Final Four

Now that the team have secured top spot in the league, Pascual recognised that the team’s only goal is to focus on the Final Four in Istanbul: “we have to focus on the Final Four. Looking past the match with Manresa, where we’ll try to do a good job, we have to totally concentrate on Europe.” He warned of the upcoming challenges his team will face: “if we felt pressured against Madrid, it will be 10 times more intense in the Final Four. It’s a completely level when it comes to emotions, intensity and atmosphere.”

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