Buducnost may be undefeated in Yugoslavia this century, but it's safe to say that Spain isn't its favorite tourist spot. On Wednesday, Real Madrid continued in great form by chasing Buducnost out of town, 91-63, to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three playoff series. Madrid looked to run away with the game early, Buducnost responded, but another romp in the third quarter effectively ended the suspense. Center Eric Struelens was the star of the night for Madrid, with 18 points and 13 rebounds, playing alongside Eric Meek, with 12 points and 5 rebounds. That frontcourt duo kept regular season MVP Dejan Tomasevic relatively in check, with 23 points and 7 boards, while the big-game debut of new Buducnost center Jerome James did not alter the game much.
Madrid came out like a house on fire, with Streulens scoring 6 points and pulling 2 rebounds, and forcing Buducnost coach Bogdan Tanjevic to call timeout at 6-0 to stop the momentum. But when Eric Meeks, another big man, scored for Madrid, who had a 7-1 rebounding edge, Tanjevic called the 2.16-meter James off the bench. He missed his first shot, and fouled when Real Madrid pulled two more offensive rebounds on the next possession. Up 12-1 now, Madrid pressed fullcourt. Buducnost finally looked for Tomasevic, who made the first field goal for Buducnost, but missed the foul shot. Alberto Angulo bested him with a three from the corner at the other end.Sergio Scariolo and Bogdan Tanjevic A steal and attempted reverse dunk by Lucio Angulo threatened to explode the game, but he missed. Still it was 19-3 Madrid after eight minutes, and just when Buducnost looked like it would do nothing right, it began to respond. It creeped back to within 23-12 after a quarter, 32-26 halfway through the second. That amounted to a 23-13 run in Buducnost's favor, and while it started with the two big men on the floor, it was sustained without them. But Madrid restored the lead to 41-31 at the half. The moment of truth, however, came in the third quarter, as Madrid laid a 26-12 decision on its guests. Madrid seemed keen to use its depth with a show of full-court versatily as fresh legs took the court every few minutes to keep forcing the pace.
Wednesday, January 31, 2001