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Real Madrid extend unbeaten run at the WiZink Center

MATCH REPORT. 04/02/2022. Edu Bueno. Photographer: Víctor Carretero

A very complete performance from our team, who convincingly overcame Zenit for their second EuroLeague win of the week and are now only one win away from an all-time home record.

Real Madrid defeated Zenit to record yet another EuroLeague win on home court, barely 48 hours after prevailing against Olympiacos, also at the WiZink Center. The competition leaders have now racked up 13 straight victories at home and are one win away from an all-time record of 14, set in the 2013-14 campaign. This evening the hosts convincingly overcame the Russian side in a match that saw Madrid pull clear in the second quarter, with a solid display both in attack and defence. Six players recorded double figures in PIR with Poirier (21) leading the way and a stellar Llull in the third quarter with 11 of his 13 points.
 
The game got off to a blistering start as both sides looked to attack, leading to constant exchanges on the scoreboard. Madrid, with Causeur on the outside (six points and 2/2 in three pointers) and Tavares in the paint (eight and three rebounds), looked comfortable in attack, but made small mistakes in defence that Zenit capitalised on with Loyd (9) and Mickey (6). Neither team was able to assert themselves at the end of the first quarter with the score tied at 23-23.
 
Madrid improve in defence
The introduction of Llull and Thompkins created more space for the competition leaders, who remained very solid in attack and improved in defence, cutting off the rebounds at the rim, their biggest issue, while containing Loyd. They were now able to capitalise on pick-and-roll plays, with Poirier and Yabusele taking full advantage. Although the hosts struggled to open up a substantial lead, they did appear to be in control of the game despite the Russian side’s resilience led by Poythress who pinned Pablo Laso’s side back (30-30, min.16). But as the second quarter progressed, the madridistas began to pull clear, as Rudy took centre stage. The small forward struck two consecutive three-pointers to spearhead his side into a 15-6 run to send the hosts into the break well ahead (45-36).

Video.85-64: Real Madrid extend unbeaten run at the WiZink Center

The Whites seemed to have found the balance at both ends of the court and continued to dictate a steady pace after the break. Led by a stellar Heurtel, who scored and assisted in equal measure, flashes of class from Yabusele and the sparkling presence of Llull (11 points in the third quarter, including a three-pointer that brought the Palacio to its feet), transformed the game. Zenit hung on with baskets from Poythress but could not keep up with a Real Madrid team that raced into an 18-point lead in the 29th minute (67-49).
 
Total control
Real Madrid exercised even more control in the final quarter. The rotations helped to sustain the team's level of concentration. Llull carried on as usual and once again won a standing ovation from the Palacio with 13 points in 18 minutes. Thompkins contributed from the three-point line. The hosts now appeared to have Zenit in the palm of their hand, something which is easier said than done, as the Russians are always a competitive force and went into the clash in fourth place, after another impressive season. But when the madridistas are in this kind of form there’s simply no stopping them. Everyone chipped in for another complete team display with Poirier, Yabusele, Rudy, Llull, Heurtel and Causeur all adding more than 10 points (85-64, min.40). Tonight's win sees Llull become the joint second player with the most games won in the history of the competition, level with Navarro (233). The Whites have now come through the EuroLeague double header and will go in search of another win on Sunday against Valencia Basket (6:30 pm CET) to complete a 100% win record this week.

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