The 2014/15 Turkish Airlines Euroleague champs Real Madrid are a step closer to claiming gold in the domestic Liga Endesa as they advance to the semifinals, defeating Herbalife Gran Canaria 2014, 86-93. The club swept their opponents in the best-of-three quarterfinals series. They now await the winner of the series between Valencia Basket and Bilbao Basket which will be decided tonight. Real Madrid’s “El Clasico” rivals, FC Regal Barcelona, are also through to the semifinals. They are set to face either Unicaja Malaga or Laboral Kutxa Vitoria. If the stars align, fans of Spanish hoops could be treated to an “El Clasico” showdown to determine this season’s league championship. Then again, we would be getting ahead of ourselves to make such assumptions right now. Either team still has to do battle with their respective opponents in the semis.
Real Madrid’s two Sergios, Llull and Rodriguez, took care of business for their team. Rodriguez finished with a game-high 26 points on some hot shooting from three-point range (5-8). Llull was also impressive with his 22 points. He knocked down 4-of-9 from deep. Gustavo Ayon handled his duties in the paint with 10 points and 11 boards to his name.
At the end of the day, it was Real Madrid’s excellent shooting from the from the free-throw line that provided them an edge. Real Madrid made 16-of-19 shots from the line, compared to Gran Canaria’s 3-of-6. True to form, the visitors played aggressively and were rewarded with some free points when they were sent to the charity stripe.
After a brief one-point lead at the end of the first quarter for Gran Canaria, there wasn’t much more that came their way. Real Madrid seized the lead in the second frame and did not look back from that point. To their credit, Gran Canaria played hard and their fans showed their appreciation throughout the contest. Albert Oliver led Gran Canaria with a double-double performance, recording 18 points and 10 assists. Kyle Kuric added 17 points as well.