AXA FC Barcelona and Tau Ceramica advanced to the Spanish League finals. Barcelona earned a spot in the 2008-09 Euroleague by sweeping its best-of-three semifinal series against archrivals DKV Joventut. Despite its loss, Joventut will also play the 2008-09 Euroleague as the reigning ULEB Cup champion. On Saturday, Barcelona beat Joventut 85-71 in Game 2 at Palau Blaugrana. Alex Acker led the winners with 20 points on 8-for-8 free throws. Jaka Lakovic added 17, Ersan Ilyasova posted a double-double of 15 points and 18 rebounds while Fran Vazquez got 12 points for Barcelona. Edu Hernandez-Sonseca had 13 points for Joventut, Jerome Moiso added 11 and 5 blocks while Pau Ribas and Demond Mallet each got 10 points for Joventut, whose star guard Rudy Fernandez was limited to just 9 points due to a shoulder injury and outstanding defense by Gianluca Basile. Meanwhile, Tau edged Unicaja 82-83 in Malaga on Sunday. Pete Mickeal won it for Tau by hitting the game-winning layup with 2.6 seconds remaining. Igor Rakocevic paced the winners with 21 points. Mickeal added 14 while Tiago Splitter had 12 for Tau. Boni Ndong had 18 points for Unicaja, Marcus Haislip added 16 and Berni Rodriguez 13. Barcelona hosts Tau in Game 1 of the best-of-five finals on Thursday, May 29.
Joventut went scoreless in the opening 6 minutes, missing 9 consecutive shots against the hosts' strong man-to-man defense. Meanwhile, a three-pointer by Basile ignited a 15-0 run in which Acker and Lakovic combined for 9 points. Moiso got Joventut going with a three-point play but he didn't find much help around. Meanwhile, Acker and Mario Kasun allowed Barcelona to get a 22-6 lead after 10 minutes. Three-pointers by Ribas, Demond Mallet and Lubos Barton brought Joventut back to life, while free throws by Ricky Rubio and Fernandez got the guests within 35-28. Fernandez left the court with a shoulder injury but a three-pointer by Hernandez-Sonseca brought Joventut even closer, 40-38. Acker and Ilyasova allowed Barcelona to keep a 45-40 lead at halftime. Joventut stayed in the game throughout the third quarter through Moiso and Noel to cut its deficit to 57-56. A 7-0 run that Basile capped with a triple allowed Barcelona to get a 63-59 edge after 30 minutes. Vazquez shined early in the fourth quarter while Ilyasova struck from downtown for a 73-66 Barcelona lead with 6 minutes to go. Ilyasova kept dominating the boards, however, while a driving layup by Lakovic made it a double-digit game, 80-70, with 3 minutes to go. Joventut did not recover and all Barcelona fans celebrated its return to the Spanish League finals and the fact that their team will be back in the Euroleague!
In Malaga, Carlos Cabezas and Ndong gave Unicaja a 7-4 lead early in the game. Rakocevic stepped up for Tau, as he followed a jumper with a running triple to put Tau ahead, 12-16. Haislip, Daniel Santigo and a final basket by Jiri Welsch brought Unicaja within 22-24 at the end of the first quarter. Haislip followed a bomb from downtown while a wild dunk-and-foul to put Unicaja back ahead, 32-29. Back-to-back three-pointers by Zoran Planinic and Simas Jasaitis silenced the crowd, 34-38. Haislip kept pacing Unicaja while Ndong made it a two-point game, 44-46, at halftime. An outstanding Rakocevic shined after the break to boost the guests' lead to 52-58 midway through the third quarter. Ndong led a 12-2 run that gave Unicaja a four-point lead, 64-60, after 30 minutes. Mickeal took over early in the fourth period while a three-pointer by Sergi Vidal gave tau a 73-76 edge. with over 3 minutes remaining. Carlos Jimenez, Rodriguez and Ndong fueled a 7-0 run that seemed to seal the outcome, 80-76, with 25 seconds to go. Rakocevic scored in transition but Rodriguez made free throws for a 82-78 Unicaja margin. Prigioni buried a seven-meter bomb and immediately fouled on Davor Kus with 7 seconds to go. Kus, a 93% free throw shooter, missed twice from the foul line. Mickeal raced downcourt and scored in the other end. Unicaja had time for a final shot but Planinic had a block on Cabezas' nine-meter shot that allowed Tau to reach the title series!
|Semifinal Playoffs, best of 3 games|
|Record||Team||Game 1||Game 2||Game 3 |
|2||Tau Ceramica (4)||81||83||x|
|0||DKV Joventut (2)||90||71||x|
|2||AXA FC Barcelona (3)||93||85||x|
|Game 1||DKV Joventut vs. AXA FC Barcelona ||90-93||May 22 |
|Game 1||Tau Ceramica vs. Unicaja||81-68||May 23 |
|Game 2||AXA FC Barcelona vs. DKV Joventut||85-71||May 24 |
|Game 2||Unicaja vs. Tau Ceramica||82-83||May 25 |