Rudy inspires Madridistas to victory, team just one win from 37th title

79 -63

Real Madrid


UCAM Murcia

The small forward hit 14 straight points, received a standing ovation that lasted almost 9 minutes at the WiZink Center and guided the team to a 2-0 lead in the final series.

Rudy inspires Madridistas to victory, team just one win from 37th title
MATCH REPORT.Edu BuenoPhotographer: Pedro Castillo

Real Madrid edged UCAM Murcia again at the WiZink Center in the second match of the final series two days after the first to move to within one win of being crowned champions for the 37th time in the club's history. Chus Mateo's troops took the victory courtesy of their rock-solid defence, finishing with a strong last quarter, fine offensive rebounding (16) and a sensational Rudy. The small forward was the life and soul of the team. He was the star of the show after a perfect performance (14 straight points, 6 rebounds and 20 PIR in 14:31 minutes). It was a magical and emotional night at the WiZink Center, which gave Rudy a standing ovation lasting 8 minutes and 43 seconds in the second game of the Liga Endesa final series.

It was a game of high intensity and high tempo at the start, with Madrid opening up a lead thanks to strong offensive rebounding from Tavares (4) and points from Musa (8) and Causeur (5). Meanwhile, UCAM Murcia held on and kept it close. The visitors barely penetrated in the paint owing to Madrid's superb defence, but they relied on Kurucs' three-pointers and free throws to stand up to Chus Mateo's men in the first 10 minutes (18-15).

Madrid open up a gap
The Whites lacked precision from three-point range, converting just one in 18 minutes. The zonal defence was paying off for Sito Alonso's charges, who made the most of the shooting lapses to attack and damage the defensive balance. Caupain and Sleva turned the score around in the 14th minute to make it 22-23. However, in addition to remaining patient, the madridistas possessed plenty of offensive weapons. They found answers near the hoop with Poirier and, with Yabusele instrumental in putting Chus Mateo's team back in control, they continued to rack up points near the hoop with Poirier. The Frenchman displayed his immense physical prowess and with several spectacular plays (including a dunk over two opponents and a 2+1) he provided that extra energy to our team and thrilled the WiZink Center faithful. Eight points from them sparked a 9-2 run, which they continued to build on in the final stretch of the first half to 18-7 after three consecutive three-pointers, one from Campazzo and two from Rudy (40-30, min. 20).

With MusaTavares and their dominance in offensive rebounding, Madrid extended their lead to 13 points midway through the third quarter (49-36, min.14). Nevertheless, the visitors remained fiercely competitive, playing in the zone and hitting 5 three-pointers, with Sleva and Kurucs at the forefront, to mount a comeback in the ensuing minutes and claw their way back into the game heading into the final quarter (57-52, min. 30).

The best was still to come
It had been a gruelling game, with plenty of intensity and utmost concentration. But one player changed the course of the game: Rudy Fern├índez. And he saved his best basketball until the end. His involvement at the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the last was crucial. He boosted our team's defensive strength and picked up the reins in attack. Rudy struck five straight points in a moment of the highest pressure from Murcia to reach a 10-point lead once again. From that point on, a superb Poirier and Hezonja joined the party until Rudy returned with a three-pointer with two minutes to go to settle the game at 74-61. Chus Mateo replaced him and the WiZink honoured him with the tribute that a true Madrid legend deserves. As the fans rose to their feet and chanted his name, the Palacio applauded the small forward, who kissed the crest on what was an unforgettable night (79-63, min. 40).