Real Madrid overcame a stern test from Regal FC Barcelona in the decisive game of the Spanish ACB finals series to be crowned the champions of the ACB Liga Endesa. The result 79-71 means that Madrid snatched the league title by 3 games to 2 over the series to claim the clubs 31st championship, a record in Spain.
However, much like the whole series and indeed historically, Real Madrid had to contend with a quality Barcelona outfit that was always posing a threat. With the series tied at 2-2, it was always going to be a dramatic finale as both teams entered the contest with real designs on winning. As the home team, the Madrid players would have fancied their chances and would have counted on the support of the partisan home crowd to spur them to victory.
The first quarter proved to be a physical battle as both teams attempted to assert dominance on the game, but it was Real Madrid who was more deadly at the hoop. A frantic opening put Madrid 10-0 up, and in hindsight it was that early push that ultimately drove the team to victory. Not that Barcelona wilted in the first 10 minutes, despite the early Real Madrid onslaught the team kept cool and narrowed the gap to just two points at the break, 20-18 in Madrid’s favour.
During the second ten minutes Madrid moved through another gear, both defensively and offensively, restricting Barcelona to just 14 points in the quarter and opening up a healthy half-time lead. Heading into the midway break Real Madrid was leading by nine and the players could probably sense victory over their great rivals.
Real Madrid emerged for the second half with the kind of impetus that suggested the players tasted blood and were going for the kill. A flurry of points in the third quarter put the team a healthy seventeen points clear on the scoreboard, but yet again the Barcelona players would not go quietly into the night. Timely trebles from Sarunas Jasikevicius (192 cm, Maryland) and Joe Ingles (203 cm) kept the visitors in touch with the lead cut to seven points heading into the 4th.
While the fourth period proved to be a tense affair and lived up to the drama of this rivalry, in terms of toing and froing on the scoreboard, there was little. Real Madrid maintained a consistent scoring level, and despite Barcelona following suit it was not enough to trouble the home team, who closed out the match and lifted the ACB trophy.
No player on the Madrid team could be classed as a scoring machine tonight, but healthy contributions from several players pushed the team to glory. Rudy Fernandez (198 cm) scored 15, Felipe Reyes (206 cm) notched up 15, while Tremmell Darden (194 cm, Niagara’04) scored 13 for the new ACB champions. Barcelona could point to valuable points hauls from Joe Ingles with 25 and Sarunas Jasikevicius (192 cm, Maryland’08) with 23, but ultimately all either player did was keep Barcelona in the contest.
Despite being Spain’s premier cub and the all-time Euroleague winner, Real Madrid has had to wait six years to recapture the ACB title. The team last claimed the honour in 2007, and tonight’s success will be all the sweeter after the team missed out a 9th Euroleague title last month by losing to Olympiacos in the final.