The classic Spanish derby, Real Madrid vs. Winterthur FC Barcelona, came without extra motivation as both were eliminated from the Euroleague quarterfinals before the last Top 16 Group E game. Nonetheless, a close came was solved in favour of Madrid by 76-73 after the hosts opened double-digit leads throughout the second half. The Euroleague season arrived to an end for both sides as they end tied in Group E for third place with 2-4 records, even though Barcelona claimed that positon due to the tiebreak difference of its13-point win at home in the first leg of the Top 16. Alberto Herreros led Real Madrid with 13 points, Axel Hervelle added 12, while three other players posted 11 apiece: Antonis Fotsis, Mous Sonko and Mario Stojic. For Barcelona, Gregor Fucka led all scorers with 20 points and Andrija Zizic added 13.
With unusual starting fives on court for both teams, the game started Zizic scoring on a layup and free throws for a 0-4 Barcelona lead. Madrid pulled within 5-6 after Mario Stojic's triple, soon after which Bueno gave the hosts their first lead, 7-6. The teams exchanged baskets easily as Sonko blasted a triple for 12-10 but Rodrigo De la Fuente soon tied at 12-12. The game advanced with some bench rotations for both sides and good percentages as a jumper by Antonis Fotsis kept Madrid ahead 19-16. Barcelona connected with Gregor Fucka underneath for the last basket of the quarter, leaving a 19-18 scoreboard after 10 minutes.
Marc Gasol gave Barcelona a lead to start the second quarter, but Fotsis took it back for Madrid. Sonko added a new layup and Barca again went to Fucka inside, where 14 of its 22 points so far had been scored. Still, Madrid pulled away by 6 points, for 28-22 with Axel Hervelle's three-point play. Defenses played hard despite the circumstances, as Gasol was called for a flagrant foul before Alberto Herreros's first triple. That sparked a 12-2 Madrid run to the first double-digit lead of the night, 35-24. Stojic soon lengthened it with another triple as Madrid preserved a double-digit advantage, 40-30, at the break.
Hervelle soared for a triple on the 24-second clock to open the second half, but Vlado Ilievski replied soon for Barcelona. Herreros took over with back-to-back shots from the arc, however, as Madrid increased its lead little by little to 49-34. Dejan Bodiroga scored his first basket and Juan Carlos Navarro did the same to keep Barcelona within 49-38. The teams traded baskets now as Barcelona got as close as 7 points, 51-44, but Hervelle found an easy layup to keep the distance. The guests didn't give up, as Bodiroga nailed a clean jumper after a turnover and Fucka had time to score on the third quarter buzzer to trim the deficit to 5 points, 56-51, after 30 minutes.
Bodiroga started the final quarter with another basket, but Stojic matched him and Alberto Aspe added 2 points for Madrid before Fucka's triple painted a 60-56 score. Aspe and Stojic copied him, however, with back-to-back three-pointers that opened a 13-point margin, 69-56, for Madrid. After that, the hosts didn't have any problems maintaining a lead around 10 points until a late 0-6 run by Barcelona, including 4 points by Fucka, elivened the final minutes. Barcelona kept chipping away until Navarro managed to hit a triple to make it 72-70 and 10 seconds left. Free throws for each team took the game to the end with Real Madrid surviving 76-73 at the final buzzer.
Thursday, March 31, 2005