Liga Endesa: One falls, three remain unbeaten

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Going into the Week 4 match-ups in the Spanish Liga Endesa there were four clubs that held perfect records, but with two of those clubs set to square off against each other, one was certainly falling from the ranks. As Gran Canaria and CB Canarias got set for the latest installment of the Canary Island Derby, both clubs enjoyed sharing the top of the Liga Endesa with Real Madrid and FC Barcelona Regal. Unfortunately, only one of the teams from the remote Spanish islands would come out with a win and with Herbalife Gran Canaria sporting a 23-year winning streak in the derby, the odds were certainly stacked in their favor. This wouldn’t be the day of the streak falling either as Herbalife put up 23 on their guests in the first half and then cruised to an 18-point win, 79:61.

Herbalife Gran Canaria – CB Canarias, 79:61
Herbalife Gran Canaria remained one of three undefeated teams in the Liga Endesa with a big 79:61 home win over rival Canary Island club CB Canarias, who fell to 3-1 with the loss. Herbalife dominated the contest on the boards where they held a 47-29 advantage, and in shots inside the arc, where they went 22 of 43 (51%) vs. Canarias, who shot 13 of 34 (38%).

The game got out of hand early, with the hosts racking up a 47:24 lead after the first half, on scores of 25:14 in the first 10, and 22:10 in the second. The guests fought back after the break and knocked six off their deficit, but the locals tightened up their defense in the fourth and shut the door on any thoughts of a comeback.

Javier Beiran was game-high for Herbalife with 20, and Xavi Rey tallied 10 points and 8 rebounds. CB Canarias’ Blagota Sekulic turned in the best performance of the night as he contributed a 14P/12R double-double with a 23 evaluation. Saul Blanco and Ricardo Uriz both scored 10 for the guests.

Real Madrid – Bilbao Basket, 92:75
Real Madrid stayed perfect on the young Liga Endesa campaign, putting up big numbers against Bilbao Basket in Madrid. The hosts nearly scored in triple digits as they easily handled the winless club from Bilbao, 92:75.

Sergio Rodriguez led the way for Madrid with 17 points and 9 assists, Ioannis Bourousis scored 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, Sergio Llull added 12 points, Jaycee Carroll dropped in 11, and Felipe Reyes tallied a 10P/11R double-double. Dairis Bertans was game-high for Bilbao with 22, and Alex Mumbru added 15 points and 9 rebounds.

FC Barcelona Regal – Gipuzkoa Basket, 81:74
FC Barcelona Regal rebounded from their Euroleague home loss to newcomer Nanterre last with with a tense home Liga Endesa win over Gipuzkoa Basket, 81:74. The win keeps Regal on pace with Madrid and Gran Canarias at the top of the league, while Gipuzkoa falls to 1-3.

Barcelona took the early lead after the first frame, outscoring their guests 21:19, but Gipuzkoa countered in the second frame with a 6-point margin to head into the break up four, 37:41. The clubs pushed in the third with a 16-all tie, keeping the advantage with the guests as they geared up for the final 10. Fortunately for Barça the duo of Marcelinho Huertas and Juan Carlos Navarro stepped up in the fourth 10 to combine for a solid 20 points and despite only leading by a point with a minute to go, they were able to put away a win down the stretch giving the loyals at the Palau Blaugrana reason to celebrate.

Huertas led Barcelona with 21 points and an evaluation of 23, Navarro added 15 points and 6 rebounds, Ante Tomic scored 14, Maciej Lampe and Alex Abrines both scored 10. Jason Robinson was game-high with 26 for Gipuzkoa, Anthony Winchester added 12.

CAI Zaragoza – La Bruixa d´Or, 89:52
Coming into Liga Endesa Week 4 CAI Zaragoza and La Bruixa d’Or were tied in the standings with equal 2-1 records, but as the crowd of over 6,300 headed out of the Pabellon Principe Felipe, their club had improved to 3-1 and tied for the second spot in the league, while La Bruixa fell to 2-2 after a 37-point rout, 89:52.

The tone was established in right away with the hosts taking the first frame 30:19, then taking a 48:29 margin into the dressing rooms at the mid-game break. Things just got worse for the guests as Zaragoza turned it up and put up another 14 to give them a 33-point lead at the end of the third 10. The fourth quarter could be considered a victory of sorts for La Bruixa as they only gave up four additional points, to give CAI a 37-point margin of victory.

Liga Endesa

Sergio Garcia in his first contest in the Liga Endesa for CAI Zaragoza. CAI’s Viktor Sanikidze (right) gives the youngest player to lace up sneakers in the league encouragement.

Of note, CAI saw the debut of their youngest player, Sergio Garcia, who, at age 16 years, 8 months and 14 days, is the youngest player ever to play in the Liga Endesa.

On their way to the 89 points, CAI shot an impressive 18 of 19 (95%) from the line, and 25 of 42 (60%) inside the arc. They were a big weak in the long-ball category, only connecting on 7 of 24 (29%). The hosts also dominated on the glass, out-rebounding their visitors 44-29 on the night.

Giorgi Shermadini was game-high for CAI with 18 points, Jon Stefansson added 12, and Pedro Liompart and Michael Roll each scored 10. Dominic Waters paced La Bruixa with 12, and Josh Asselin added 10.

FIATC Joventut – Unicaja, 63:65
Unicaja stayed in the hunt for the top spot in the Liga Endesa with a thriller in Badalona that saw the host club, FIATC Joventut miss an opportunity to tie the game at the free throw line in the final seconds, giving Unicaja their third win on the season, while Joventut falls to 1-3.

The hosts opened the contest with a four-point first quarter lead at 24:20 and held the lead into the break after John Shurna snagged an errant Unicaja pass, took one dribble and fired up nearly a three-quarters of the length shot that was still in the air as the buzzer sounded, but fell through the hoop to give the hosts the lead at the break, 39:37. Unicaja took the lead in the third outscoring their hosts 12:15. In the fourth the clubs battled to a 62:64 score, but a split pair of singles prevented them from getting an opportunity to send the game in to overtime and they ended up coming up on the short end of a 63:65 score.

Rafael Hettsheimeir was high man for Unicaja with 16 points, Zoran Dragic scored 13, and Fran Vazquez added 11. Shurna was game-high with 17 for Joventut, Guillem Vives added 15 points and 6 rebounds.

Baloncesto Fuenlabrada – Rio Natura Monbus, 73:78
Rio Natura Monbus took advantage of the fact that Baloncesto Fuenlabrada only managed to tally 12 points between the second and third quarters to earn their first win of the 2013-14 Liga Endesa, 73:78. The loss drops Fuenlabrada also to 1-3.

The hosts found success in the first frame, getting up 28:23, but then found the lid had fallen on their basket and they only managed to score four points total in the second, while their guests dropped in 18. At the half the visitors had put on some distance, building a 32:41 advantage. Their lead grew to a high of 15 in the third frame, but they couldn’t take further advantage of the problems the hosts were having finding the cords. At the end of the third Monbus was up 40:55. In the final frame Baloncesto knocked off 10 from the margin, but it was too little, too late, as they were still down by nine with three minutes to play and couldn’t close the gap quickly enough to prevent the loss on their home turf.

Benjamin Dewar led the way for Monbus with 16, Mario Delas added 13 points and 7 rebounds, Alberto Corbacho scored 10, and Mike Muscala tallied a 10P/10R double-double. Ivan Paunic and Andy Panko scored 16 points each for Baloncesto, James Feldeine added 11, and Marcus Arnold contributed 10.

Played on Saturday, Nov. 2
Estudiantes – UCAM Murcia CB, 69:77
Cajasol – Laboral Kutxa, 82:62
Valencia Basket Club – C. Baloncesto Valladolid, 108:57

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