Thursday’s first encounter of the four-day rapid-fire basketball fest that is the King’s Cup was a classic, in every sense of the word. The quarterfinal match saw Real Madrid drawn against archrival FC Barcelona Regal in a clásico more typically reserved for the final (as in the past three years), but the occasion proved sufficient inspiration for the two teams in Vitoria’s Buesa Arena — so much so that two periods of overtime were required to separate them.
Barcelona finally prevailed 111-108, thanks largely to towering performances by US forward Pete Mickeal and Croatian center Ante Tomic, with 26 and 20 points respectively. In a turbulent match where mistakes played as big a role as talent, Real top-scorer Sergio Llull (23) failed with a final-second three-pointer attempt, a harsh way to end for the Spain international guard who had kept his team in the hunt with six triples earlier in the game.
So Real Madrid will not defend its crown this year, while Barcelona will play the home favorite Caja Laboral in the first of Saturday’s two semifinal clashes (7pm, TVE1). The Basque team came through Thursday night’s match against CAI Zaragoza fairly easily 88-64 thanks to a strong second-half performance in front of 14,500 fans in Vitoria.
Saturday’s other semifinal (9.30pm, regional stations) will pitch the winner of Valencia Basket-Asefa Estudiantes against either Herbalife Gran Canaria or Uxue Bilbao.