The Spanish Liga Endesa is one of the most competitive domestic leagues in Europe. Over the weekend two of its Top 4 teams collided in what proved to be an exciting game. Laboral Kutxa Vitoria played host to popular franchise Real Madrid in Baskonia. Despite some impressive three-point shooting by their guests, Laboral Kutxa proved to be the more resilient team for the night and ended up prevailing 86-80.
Laboral Kutxa’s Ioannis Bourousis proved to be the X-factor for his team once again. He’s been a hot player in recent weeks and has shown no signs of slowing down. He exploded for a game high 24 points and also managed to grab eight rebounds. Real Madrid sent him to the free-throw line far too frequently in an attempt to slow down the Greek juggernaut. He made them pay by converting 9-of-10 of his charity shots. He was a thorn in their side on the defensive end as well, collecting three steals. Teammates Kim Tillie and Mike James added 15 points apiece.
Real Madrid’s star point guard Sergio Rodriguez did his best to keep his team in the game with his team-high 20 points and eight assists, but Baskonia pressured him when he had the ball and he ended up turning the ball over six times during the game. Real Madrid committed 16 turnovers for the game compared to Laboral Kutxa’s 10.
The hosts welcomed Real Madrid with their own brand of aggressive basketball in the first quarter. Real Madrid was slow to react and found themselves down by eight points, 23-15 at the end of the first period. Real Madrid got into their groove in the second period, thanks to Rodriguez’s floor leadership. As both clubs headed to the locker rooms for the halftime break, Real Madrid led 36-40.
The complexion of the game changed once again in the second half. Laboral Kutxa retook the initiative and with it, the lead. Still, Real Madrid was able to do enough to keep their opponents within reasonable striking distance. Baskonia had a slim three-point lead with one final quarter remaining in the game. In the final frame, solid defense and the aggressive play of Bourousis allowed Laboral Kutxa to edge out Real Madrid.
Both teams are now 11-3, but thanks to this win, Laboral Kutxa is now in third place in the Liga Endesa standings while Real Madrid slides down to fourth place.
On another note, league leader Valencia Basket remains unbeaten and their run is now at 14 wins. They had a convincing 81-70 home win over Sevilla basket. FC Barcelona is still in second place with their 13-1 record. They easily defeated Estudiantes Madrid at home 89-67.