Barcelona levels ACB final series in another nail biter

Captain Navarro leads the way in narrow 71-72 win over Real Madrid

Real Madrid captain Felipe Reyes fights for a rebound with Barça's Sarunas Jasikevicius and Ante Tomic.
Real Madrid captain Felipe Reyes fights for a rebound with Barça's Sarunas Jasikevicius and Ante Tomic.ALEJANDRO RUESGA

With less controversy, more sweat and the same intrigue, Barcelona tied the ACB Liga basketball final with a narrow 71-72 win over Real Madrid in the second game in the best-of-five series at the capital’s Palacio de Deportes.

After an intense physical battle led by captains Felipe Reyes and Juan Carlos Navarro, Real had the chance to seal victory in the final possession, but this time the shot by in-form Sergio Rodríguez ran around the basket and Jaycee Carroll couldn’t score from the rebound.

As in its victorious first game, Real started with intent, surging to a 10-2 lead. But this time Barça reacted immediately with Navarro and Brad Oleson helping to close the quarter with a 10-11 lead.

Real started to get into gear again in the second quarter, exploiting the disappearance of Navarro to establish a 10-point lead (36-26) on the 20-minute mark.

Another Barcelona assault brought it back within touching distance (39-37), only for Real to once again surge ahead to leave the match at 53-30 with 12 minutes to go.

Cue Captain Navarro, who came off the bench in true superhero style and Barça once again set about clawing back the gap.

A three-pointer from C. J. Wallace, a lost ball by Real and two free throws from Oleson took the visitor to 71-72 with seven seconds on the clock. After that it was just left for Rodríguez to miss to hand victory to the Catalans.

The series now moves to Barcelona for Friday’s third game in the series (TVE or TDP, 10pm).

“Life changes in 48 hours and in one second,” Navarro summed up after the match. “They have been two very equal matches and we are expecting something similar in Barcelona. It is looking a lot like last year’s final (where Barça triumphed 3-2 over Real). Today we almost paid dear for a first half in which we didn’t play at all well, but in the second we believed in victory at every moment. We had faith and we achieved it point by point. You always have to believe.”

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