Madrid rallies to take classic, reaches first final since 1995
Real Madrid is one win away from what could be its first Euroleague championship in nearly two decades after holding off archrival FC Barcelona Regal 67-74 in an exciting second semifinal in the 2013 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four at The O2 in London on Friday night. Los Blancos advanced to Sunday’s final, where they will meet reigning champion Olympiacos Piraeus, the same club Madrid defeated for its last crown in 1995. Felipe Reyes scored 11 points during a 2-17 fourth-quarter rally as Madrid took control of what had been a tight back-and-forth contest till that point. Reyes finished with 17 points in 19 minutes. Sergio Llull, who scored 11 second-quarter points after Madrid fell behind early, finished with 13. Sergio Rodriguez tallied 13 points and 9 assists – he was 1 assist away from a Final Four semifinals record! Marcelinho Huertas paced Barcelona with 19 points and Ante Tomic tallied 18 points and 12 rebounds in defeat.
First quarter: Tomic helps Barcelona to early lead
Tomic scored 4 of 4 free throws, the only points on either end of the floor in the opening three minutes of the game, before Nikola Mirotic sank a three-pointer from the right corner for Madrid. With a jumper from Huertas and a triple from Navarro, Barcelona went up 9-3. Carlos Suarez answered with a three-pointer of his own, but Huertas made a runner and Tomic a layup for 13-6. On the other end, Mirotic made a basket-plus-free throw, but Navarro topped that on the ensuing possession with a triple-plus-free throw as the margin reached 16-9. A fastbreak layup from Rudy Fernandez marked the only points Barcelona allowed in more than three minutes to end the quarter, and a pair of free throws from C.J. Wallace gave it an 18-11 advantage after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Llull sparks Madrid comeback
Llull opened the second quarter with a triple, and Marko Todorovic made an easy layup for Barcelona. Madrid came within 20-19 with a Reyes layup after a behind-the-back pass from Rodriguez, and with another triple by Llull. The game picked up pace as Navarro answered right back with his third triple, and Llull countered with his third shot from downtown in as many minutes to make it 23-22. Sarunas Jasikevcius and Rodriguez traded close-range baskets, before Rodriguez added a triple to his tally, giving Madrid its first advantage, 26-27. Tomic made a basket-plus-foul on the other end to start his string of 7 consecutive points for Barcelona, but layups from Marcus Slaughter and Fernandez, with a jumper from Reyes in between, put Madrid up 29-33. Rodriguez nailed a jumper, and Llull made a driving layup to extend the margin to 6. In the last 20 seconds of the quarter, Tomic hit a mid-range shot before Reyes rounded out the scoring with a put-back, giving his team a 33-39 halftime lead.
Third quarter: Tomic, Marcelinho boost Barca
A dunk from Mirza Begic started the scoring in the third quarter to give Madrid a 33-41 lead, but Barcelona answered with a 7-0 run during which Erazem Lorbek got a favorable bounce on his mid-range jumper, and Huertas nailed a three-pointer. A dunk from Tomic assisted by Navarro tied the game at 42-42, but Suarez sank a three-pointer to put Madrid back in front. Tomic added another easy close-range bucket, bringing his personal tally to 18 points midway through the third quarter. Fernandez kept Madrid in front with a driving layup, 44-48, but Barcelona did not allow another basket for the last three and a half minutes of the quarter. Meanwhile, Lorbek made a put-back, before Huertas nailed a three-pointer and then hit a runner off the glass to make it 51-48 after three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Reyes stars in 2-17 Madrid run
Huertas continued his run of points in the fourth quarter, making a tough three-pointer off the glass, and Jasikevicius made a stop-and-go drive to the hoop for 56-48. After a timeout, Slaughter made a dunk and a layup, but Jasikevicius hit a jumper and Joe Ingles nailed another for the largest lead of the night for any team, 61-52. However, Madrid quickly halved that lead with Reyes scoring 5 points, including a layup-plus-foul on a fastbreak. Lorbek ended Barcelona’s drought with a put-back, but Reyes answered with a reverse layup before Rodriguez stole the ball and raced for an uncontested layup, 63-63. After Jaycee Carroll’s put-back, Reyes made a layup to cap a 2-17 run and give Madrid a 63-69 lead. Huertas snapped the run with a pair of free throws, but Madrid did not allow any more than that. Rodriguez split free throws in the final 30 seconds, and Fernandez stole a long pass to seal the deal.
Friday, May 10, 2013