Real Madrid became the first team to make it through to the Liga Endesa semi-finals. The Whites secured their place in the next round after recording a sublime victory at the Nou Congost, the second of the series against Baxi Manresa, following the win 72 hours previously in Madrid. The visitors certainly had to work hard for it and remain focussed for the whole 40 minutes against a home side spurred on by a passionate crowd until the final buzzer. However, Pablo Laso’s men managed the game well and produced an 11-2 run in the final three minutes to seal the tie, with another sensational attacking display with seven players racking up between 9 and 14 points, spearheaded by Yabusele (16, 7 rebounds and 18 in PIR).
The game got off to a blistering start with both sides looking to pull clear in the scoring early on and Madrid on song from the three-point line, hitting six in the first quarter. The visitors moved the ball around fluidly and showed great patience when required, to overpower Pedro Martínez’s men in the zone and move seven points clear in the 8th minute (18-25) after three consecutive strikes – 2 from Llull and 1 from Yabusele. Along with Hanga, they racked up 19 of Real Madrid’s 25 points.
Rudy and the defence come to the rescue
Baxi Manresa also showed great shooting precision and hurt the madridistas with their short spells of possession and aggression on the offensive rebound. Thomasson and Bako spearheaded their team’s first significant scoring run in the second quarter, as the hosts began to dominate (34-29, min.15), but Rudy was also beginning to make his mark on the clash. His eight consecutive points in the closing stages of the first half pegged the home team back (39-41, min. 20). Madrid then tightened up in defence after the break and this would set the tone for the third quarter, which saw the Whites open up a nine-point lead after a 26-12 run in the space of 12 minutes (between 15’ and 27’), with Yabusele and Poirier taking over from Rudy (53-59, min. 30).
Video.74-83: Into the Liga Endesa semi-finals
Madrid recover to claim victory
Our side had the chance to pull clear at the start of the fourth quarter, but failed to do so when they missed several seemingly straightforward shots. This inspired Baxi Manresa to fight back, knowing full well that this could be the final game of their campaign. The hosts applied the pressure, roared on by the boisterous Nou Congost faithful and came from behind to edge past Madrid, led by a superb Moneke (63-59, min. 34). With six minutes left on the clock, Laso’s charges trailed until the 37th minute.
A spectacular final dunk
With the score at 72-71, the Whites' winning mentality came to the fore and in the space of three minutes they crushed Manresa's hopes. The introduction of Deck with several two-and-ones, Llull, Tavares, Causeur with a three pointer that sealed the game and Yabusele proved to be crucial. A dunk from the Frenchman, the best of the madridistas today, capped off a blistering 11-2 run in the last three minutes (74-83, min. 40).
BAXI MANRESA-REAL MADRID STATISTICS