Real Madrid slipped to defeat in the second game of the league final series at the Palau Blaugrana, which was hampered by some controversial officiating. In the dying seconds, and with the score tied, Higgins converted two free throws following an inexistent foul by Tavares that ultimately decided the clash. The series is now all square at 1-1 and shifts to the WiZink Center, where the next two match-ups will be contested.
It was a highly intense, fierce contest, with a low number of points scored in the first half. The madridistas got off to another great start in the first quarter, producing a 4-14 run early on that saw Barça go almost five minutes without scoring a single point. Madrid's defence was outstanding, with impressive automatic switches on Barça's inside players and a particularly effective offense near the hoop (over 80% success rate). This forced Jasikevicius into making three changes immediately and reshuffling his team, which featured Sanli in the starting line-up. The first quarter ended 13-17 to Madrid.
Madrid hold on
The introduction of more physical players in the form of Jokubaitis, Davies and Smits saw Barça reduce the deficit and then Calathes fired his side ahead for the first time in the contest at 26-24 in the 17th minute. Madrid countered quickly through Abalde and, notably, Yabusele (10 points and 6 rebounds at half-time), offsetting the visitors lack of accuracy from three-point range through a ferocious battle underneath the opposition hoop. The two sides went into half-time on level terms (32-32).
Video.71-69: Madrid lose second game after controversial decision
After the re-start, the intensity picked up as the Palau roared the hosts on. The succession of fouls awarded against Madrid (9 in this quarter) allowed Barça to pick up points with more ease. but the madridistas withstood the pressure by defending compactly. Llull, who had made his return from injury in the first quarter, led his side in a constant exchange of bursting attacks between the two teams (56-54, min. 30).
Extreme tension right to the end
The encounter soon took a turn for the worse when Barça stormed back in the final quarter. In an attacking play, Davies hit Causeur in the face, but the referees did not award the foul in attack and also reprimanded the Madrid player for simulation. The incident resulted in a technical foul against Deck, one of our team's most outstanding players, who then had to be benched with his fourth personal foul. Barça went eight up on 34 minutes. The Whites had to pick themselves up and they showed character and grit to level the game at 65 all with two minutes remaining. Madrid held on with two baskets from Tavares and the game was level going into the final minute. With 27 seconds on the clock, a drive by Higgins resulted in a non-existent foul awarded against Tavares and the point guard's two free throws made it 71-69. Madrid had the next possession but missed from the three-point line. On Friday, it's all hands on deck for the second win at the Palacio (9pm CET).
BARÇA-REAL MADRID STATISTCIS