Since 1957, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona Regal have met in the finals of the Spanish National league, known as the Liga Nacional from 1957 to 1983 and then the Liga Endesa from 1984 until today, 22 times. In those 22 meetings, Real Madrid has taken home the big hardware 14 times (30 overall), while Barça has received the streamer party 8 times (17 overall). On Wednesday night, Regal made it official, they will join Madrid in the finals of the 2012-13 version of the Liga Endesa for the 23rd time, as they finished off Herbalife Gran Canarias, 62:84, to win the third straight game of their best-of-five series 3-0.
For Barça, the advancement to the finals marks their seventh straight season that they will be playing for the championship, with a 3-3 record over the last six season. They will look for their forth title in seven years, and fifth in 10 years, when they lock horns with Real Madrid, starting on Sunday in Madrid.
Against Gran Canarias, Barcelona got 17 points from Brad Oleson, while Herbalife got a 13P/11R double/double from Eulis Baez. Olsen had the hot hand all night for the guests, shooting 4 of 5 (80%) inside the arc, and 3 of 4 (75%) behind the arc.
Barcelona’s floor general, Juan Carlos Navarro, got scoring in the contest underway 10 seconds after the opening tip with a jumper off an assist by Marcelinho Huertas. It took over a minute and a half for anyone to tally again, but the next points on the board went to Herbalife when Thomas Fine drove the lane, got the lay-up and an extra free throw due to the foul committed on him by Ante Tomic. Fine completed the three-point play and with the single, put HGC up early. Herbalife was able to build a small lead late in the quarter, but Barça reeled them in and was only down a point, 18:17, as the first 10 ticked off.
An Oleson triple tied the score at 20, then after a fast-break lay-up by Uros Slokar gave HCG a two-point lead, Oleson again hit a jumper to even the tally, this time at 22. Regal hit the next six unanswered to extend their lead to six, 22:28. With the score at 24:30, Oscar Alvarado knocked down a three-ball for Herbalife, then Ryan Toolson knotted the score at 30 with another long-ball for the hosts. Marcelinho scored the final points of the half with three seconds on the clock to send the clubs to the dressing rooms with Barcelona up 36:39.
After exchanging baskets early on, the guests got a lay-up and then a Navarro triple to get up by six, 40:46. Spencer Nelson dropped a deuce for Gran Canarias, but Oleson tallied three immediately after to extend the lead to seven, 42:49. Joe English gave Barcelona their first double-digit lead with a long-ball that put the visitors up 44:54. Erazam Lorbek’s three-pointer gave Barça there biggest lead of the night at 13 points, 46:59. Huertas picked up the final two points of the third frame at the charity stripe, sending the contest into the final frame with the guests up 13, 48:61.
Herbalife opened the fourth with a pair of singles from Brad Newley, but then Barcelona ran off seven straight to get up 50:68. The rest of the fourth 10 was all Barcelona as they outscored Gran Canarias 15:23 in the quarter and earned their spot in the finals going away, 62:84.
Oleson’s 17 was game-high for Barcelona. Joe Ingles added 12, and the trio of Huertas, Navarro, and Loukas Mavrokefalidis contributed 10 points each.
Baez’s 13 points and 11 rebounds led Herbalife, Newley connected on 12 points, and Toolson dropped in 10.