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Oleson / PHOTO: ACBPHOTO

A heroic feat. A victory that could prove to be the tipping point in the race for the Liga Endesa title. A victory of character, of honour, of always believing it’s possible, of never giving up. Barça Regal’s competitive gene, combined with Xavi Pascual’s excellent tactical prowess, were key in tonight’s match away to Real Madrid, who held a lead of 14 points at the beginning of the third quarter. Basketball gave Barça Regal a second chance, and the Catalans made sure not to waste it.

Slow start

The first minutes of the match saw both teams get off to a slow start. Madrid hit first with a 8-0 run, but Barça Regal reacted with a 2-11 run of their own. The first quarter, which was characterised by errors from both sides, was dominated by both teams’ defences.

In the second quarter, both teams revved up their attacks. But Madrid got the better end of the exchange. Felipe Reyes was a nightmare in Barça Regal’s zone as he led the home team to a 10-point lead at the break (26-36).

Barça try to fight back

In the third quarter, Barça Regal showed that they were not down and out. The Catalans clawed their way within two points of their rivals (39-37) after a great basket from Juan Carlos Navarro. The Barça Regal captain brought the Blaugrana back into the match, but an offensive rebound for Madrid halted the comeback attempt. Laso’s men then went on a 14 to 2 run, which gave them a 9-point lead going into the final quarter (55-46).

Nail-bitting final

The final ten minutes of the game saw Barça Regal go all out for the win. Navarro knocked down a couple of baskets as did Ante Tomic, which brought Madrid within striking distance. The scoreline went from 57-46 to 59-57 with five minutes left of the clock.

In the decisive moments, the Greek player Mavrokefalidis scored a two-pointer and a three-pointer to bring Barça Regal within one point (65-64) with three minutes left until the final of the match. With the momentum on their side, Barça Regal watched as Mirotic scored an incredible three-pointer (74-70). The Blaugrana, however, hit back with a three-pointer of their own and two free throws from Brad Oleson to take the lead with seven seconds left on the clock. It was enough to secure the win. The teams will face off this Friday at the Palau, and Barça Regal will have a chance to take the lead in the final series.

MATCH FACTS

R. Madrid, 71
FCB Regal, 72

Madrid: Llull (8), Rudy (11), Suárez (2), Mirotic (10) and Begic (7) -starting five-; Draper (3), Reyes (13), Rodríguez (2), Carroll (4), Darden (7), Slaughter (4).

Barça Regal: Huertas (3), Navarro (19), Ingles (4), Wallace (6) and Tomic (8) -starting five- Sada (2), Jasikevicius (0), Todorovic (2), Mavrokefalidis (8), Rabaseda (0), Oleson (14), Lorbek (6).

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