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Barça Regal playing against Lucentum Alicante /PHOTO: ARXIU FCB

It’s Barça Regal’s moment of truth. The hour has come where the team must show their motivation and eagerness on the court of the Palau Sant Jordi, venue of the King’s Cup 2012. This Thursday, the Azulgrana squad will play in the quarterfinals of the King’s Cup against the “most dangerous” team, according to Juan Carlos Navarro, Lucentum Alicante (21:30, Teledeporte).

Surprise team of the league

Txus Vidorreta’s men come to Barcelona with nothing to lose and with a lot to win. Lucentum Alicante will have to prove why they are the surprise team of Endesa League. Even Xavi Pascual defined Lucentum as the “the most difficult [rival] of them all, [they’re] very dangerous.”

However, the Alicante team arrives to the King’s Cup playoffs having lost in the league to Gran Canaria (61-53). They are currently sit in the fifth position in the ACB.

One of the visitor’s strong points is their defence - the fourth best in the league - their points-conceded average is 71 points per game. It’s also worth highlighting that Lucentum is the third highest team in triple conversions, with an average of 35.99%, ahead of Barça Regal. “They are a difficult rival, full of good shooters and well organized from the bench, Txus Vidorreta, and on the court, Llompart,” said Pascual.

Besides a great manager, Lucentum also have great players, specifically Llompart and Ivanov. The latter, MVP and the most valued player of the Endesa League this December, has become the team’s reference point on offence thanks to his consistency under the basket.

Pressure for an on-form Barça

Barça Regal are the defending champions of the King’s Cup. Pascual talked about the ‘Palau Sant Jordi Factor’ going into this year’s playoffs: “being defending champions always means you have a little more pressure on you, it’s always harder to control your emotions when you’re really eager to do a good job.”

Besides being reigning champions of the Cup they are also Endesa League leaders, and are currently on a 10-game winning streak - counting league and Euroleague. These stats, plus the titles that the team has already won, give Barça Regal confidence. “We have our identity. We’ve won 11 out of the last 13 titles we’ve played, we have a bit of credit and security. Our trajectory up until now has been fantastic and we’re optimistic ,” said Pascual.

The history between the two sides, in Barça’s favour

On matchday 15 of the league, Jan. 8, Barça Regal faced off against Lucentum Alicante and won 65-49 thanks to Barça’s stalwart defence. Even though that game wasn’t decided until the last quarter, the Alicante side didn’t score more than 16 points in any of the quarters. However, the Bulgarian Ivanov didn’t play because he was injured.

This important absence, however, wasn’t a factor in the first part of the match, seeing that Llompart did well to keep his team in the game.

Historically, out of the seven games between the two sides, Barça has won six and Lucentum won one. The Alicante side won at the Palau, fighting back from 20 points down in March, 2005 (71-73). In the rest of the matches, however, Barça was the clear victor, including the win by 40 points in 2009, 114-72.




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