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Navarro during the match against Valencia / PHOTO: ARXIU FCB

The match played this Wednesday was a high-risk game for FC Barcelona Regal, but the Azulgranas passed the test with flying colours. Xavi Pascual’s men overcame the intensity and fight of Valencia Basket and the 9,000 fans at the Pabellón Fuente de San Luis. The reigning champions of the Liga Endesa won their second match in the semifinal playoff, which gives them the lead in the series. Moreover, the Azulgranas came close to the numbers they put up in the regular season - stats that consolidated them as the second-best offence and the best defence in the league.

Barça Regal started off with Marcelinho, Eidson, Mickeal, Lorbek and Ndong on the court, the regular starting five in this series. The start of the match was electrifying as both sides went all out for the win. The first quarter saw both teams, led by Marcelinho, Lorbek, Rafa Martínez and Faverani, respectfully, take the lead. Pascual, in the first 10 minutes, was the first of the two managers to rotate out all of his players. Perasovic, who couldn’t count on Markovic, used a total of nine players. It was a clear indication that both managers wanted to maintain the intensity on the court for as long as they could. The worst bit of news came when Mickeal quickly earned two personal fouls.

13 to 24 run in the second quarter

An open shot from Wallace and a dunk from Vázquez opened up the scoring in the second quarter (17-20). Valencia Basket, however, was on the prowl as they did their best to take advantage of any chinks in the Azulgrana defensive wall. Valencia Basket also employed the same defensive philosophy used in the first two matches: not concede any open shots to Barça Regal. Pascual, visibly frustrated, called for a timeout to give instructions to his players, he also sent Navarro out onto the court. The captain scored seven points and gave three assists right off the bat. Faverani, with 12 points and 4 rebounds in the first 20 minutes, was key to Valencia Basket’s offence but his performance wasn’t enough to stem Barça’s onslaught. The teams went to the break after Barça had gone on a 13-24 run (30-40).

At the start of the second half, Barça Regal, well directed by Marcelinho and Sada, weathered Valencia Basket’s attempt to fight back. The Valencia players wracked up personal fouls and Pascual’s men quickly took the largest lead up until that point with two minutes to go in the quarter (39-52). Valencia Basket were shaken but not beaten. If anything, Perasovic’s team is defined by their never-say-die attitude.

Barça Regal, having experienced Valencia Basket’s fearsome fightback spirit, employed their best basketball to seal the win. The last quarter started off with a three pointer from Navarro and a technical for Dean for simulating a foul. The Azulgranas had found their stride as they took a 19-point advantage (47-66) with 7 minutes to go. Perasovic stopped the match to encourage his players, but as the minutes ticked off the clock, it was evident that Barça were going to take the victory.

The fourth match of the series will be played this Friday in Valencia (20:45, Esport3). A Barça Regal victory would mean a Liga Endesa Final berth for Pascual’s men. If not, the last match of the series will be played at the Palau on Sunday (12:30).

MATCH STATS

Valencia Basket, 64


FC Barcelona Regal, 80

Valencia Basket (17+13+17+17): San Miguel (3), Martínez (7), Claver (7), Caner-Medley (3), Faverani (14) -starting five- Ogilvy (5), Newley (7), Pietrus (3), De Colo (13) and Dean (2).

FC Barcelona Regal (16+24+19+21): Huertas (13), Eidson (4), Mickeal (1), Lorbek (10), Ndong (11) -starting five- Sada (3), Navarro (15), Vázquez (8), Wallace (11), Ingles (4) and Rabaseda.

Referees: Redondo, García González and Jiménez.

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