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Leaders leaders begin year with another road win

MATCH REPORT. 04/01/2022. Edu Bueno

Real Madrid, paced by fine performances from Tavares and Rudy and able to welcome back all players affected by COVID-19, downed Baxi Manresa to maintain its unbeaten record on the road.

Real Madrid’s return to action following 12 days of inactivity after the games that were suspended on account of COVID-19 yielded a series of good news stories for our team: victory on Baxi Manresa’s floor to retain top spot and remain unbeaten in road trips in the league, and the return of Pablo Laso and all of the players hit by the virus (Juan Núñez and Vukcevic did not feature in the squad list). However, maintaining that undefeated record on the road proved to be far from straightforward in a very tough contests in which the team fought back in the final five minutes thanks to a dazzling performance from Tavares (19 points, 13 rebounds and a PIR of 32) and Rudy (15 points and five treys). Meanwhile, there were also impressive displays from YabuseleWilliams-Goss and Causeur, all of whom finished the game in double digits in the scoring stakes in this, the first win of 2022 and the 14th of the league season.

Baxi Manresa were less affected by the recent enforced lack of action in the early throws. The hosts showed better energy and were bossing proceedings physically to take the initiative against a Real Madrid team whose rushed approach in attack left them playing catch-up until the fifth minute (13-6). A time-out called by Pablo Laso, who returned to the bench following a four-match absence, served to spur the guests into action as the team gradually found some consistency in the scoring department, with Williams-Goss and Hanga starring. A 7-0 run in the very next minute saw Madrid reduce the arrears (13-13), only for the home side’s dominance on rebounds to put them ahead at the end of the first quarter (19-16, min. 10).

Madrid turns the game around
With all members of the roster now back to full fitness, Madrid turned to the bench for inspiration. The guests countered the hosts’ attacking play with more aggressive defending, closing out rebounds and pilling more players forward in offense. Rudy, who performed brilliantly at both ends of the court, began the comeback with two straight treys right at the start of the second stanza. He went on to add a further three-pointer and HeurtelLlull and Yabusele then got in on the act from distance (the team posted six treys in this period) to hand Laso’s troops the biggest lead of the game at 28-35 in the 17th minute. The guests stood firm to repel the hosts’ reaction, with Maye playing a key role to head in with a two-point buffer at the break (38-40).

Video.87-92: Leaders leaders begin year with another road win

Baxi Manresa showed exactly why it has been the surprise package in the league and came out with a level of extra energy than the guest. Bako and Tavares were immersed in a battle in the height stakes, whilst Thomasson and Causeur fought for supremacy in terms of points. The madridista forward stepped up to the plate offensively just as the hosts regained the lead. Eight points from him cancelled out the opposition’s advantage, but the contest was now being played at a frantic pace and the end of the third quarter saw the two teams exchange the lead on several occasions. Francisco netted for the hosts and Heurte, replied for Madrid to leave things tied at 68 apiece at the end of the third stanza.

Rudy and Tavares pace Madrid to victory
The game was ultimately only decided in the final minutes. Manresa continued to push hard, willed on by a packed Nou Congost that witnessed its team perform well around the basket through the Bako and Sima pairing. With the score at 80-75 in the 35th minute, Madrid saved a matchball thanks to Rudy and Tavares. The forward, who was on electric form from the three-points line, sunk a further two treys (five in total) to combine with Llull to turn the score around and make it 85-88 with just over three minutes to play. Having now completed the comeback, it was time to seal the deal and the decisive center ensured victory. He was heavily involved in the final 90 seconds with two offensive rebounds, a defensive rebound and four free throws to put the result beyond a gutsy Baxi Manresa (87-92, min. 40). This result keeps the team’s winning run up and it’s now 24 games without defeat in Manresa. As long as everything goes as expected and following the suspension of Thursday’s EuroLeague contest against UNICS Kazan, our team will close out the week in Badalona against Joventut (7:15pm CET).