Liga Endesa, champs Real Madrid lose in Round 1

Liga EndesaIt was a case of mixed fortunes for Spain’s two big clubs as the Liga Endesa regular season tipped off over the weekend, with Barcelona grabbing a victory and Real Madrid floundering despite home court advantage.

Of course, regardless of results during round one, there is a whole season stretching out in front of these two titans of European hoops, with attention soon set to be turned to the Euroleague. For now though it was the Liga Endesa that kept the clubs occupied and the league is perfectly set to go to the wire once again.

Real Madrid vs. Valencia, 82-88
Real Madrid’s defence of its record 32nd title got off to an imperfect start as Valencia Basket came away from the Barclaycard Centre with a huge win. Madrid’s season will undoubtedly pick up and Valencia is always a dangerous opponent, but nevertheless Real Madrid head coach Pablo Laso will expect more from his star studded roster.

Los Blancos opened well and through the first quarter carved a 20-17 lead in front of the home fans. However, Valencia stunned the partisan crowd with a blazing 17-28 charge in the second frame that made it 37-45 through the long break. Madrid ticked in the third act and managed to win the stanza 25-15 to retake the lead through thirty minutes, the score reading 62-60. Valencia stayed consistent in all attacking areas though and in the fourth quarter outpaced the hosts 20-28 to claim a huge early season win in the Liga Endesa.

Valencia built the win on excellent team work in offence, handing out 21 assists on the night, while 20 from 21 points at the charity strip propped up the scoreboard during the victory. Justin Hamilton led the win with 26 points and 7 rebounds, while Bojan Dubljevic added 21 points and Rafael Martinez logged 13 points.

Gustavo Ayon set the tone for Real Madrid as Los Blancos looked to be on course after three periods, he scored 16 points and added 9 boards. Rudy Fernandez tabbed 12 points and Sergio Llull managed 11 points and 5 assists.

FC Barcelona vs. CAI Zaragoza, 84-76
Barcelona was given a good opening week workout by CAI Zaragoza, but the Euroleague giant found the goods to produce a home win in front of its home fans. Barca conceded its title to Real Madrid last season so club will be desperate to find success in the league this season, hopefully winning its 19th Liga Endesa crown.

The Catalan club struggled with Zaragoza early on though as the visitors put dangerous offensive plays together and simply went at their more illustrious foes. The visitors led 21-23 through ten minutes and despite losing the second frame 24-23 looked strong in attack and also had the lead through halftime (45-46). CAI Zaragoza weathered the predicted Barcelona storm in the third and actually held their own to tie the period 16 points apiece to stay one point in front. Through half hour of play the guests led 61-62, but suddenly Barca came to life as the hosts finally found the right gear to look solid at both ends of the hardwood and win the game.

Ante Tomic stood up for Barcelona once again as he scored 23 points and combined his scoring with 6 rebounds. Justin Doellman was next in line for the winning effort with 14 points and 7 boards.

Drake Diener scored 11 points in the losing team, followed by Issac Fotu with 10 points. That does not tell the whole Zaragoza story though as running Barcelona close on the road was a team effort with three other players scoring 9 points and two more 8 points.

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