Barcelona ensures ACB final will go to five games
Spain’s defending basketball champion forces a final match on rival’s home patch
If Real Madrid was able to carve out a 2-1 series lead in the ACB playoffs against Barcelona, the latter could point to its inability to take rebounds as a key element: Real Madrid has amassed 23 more than its rival over the course of three matches, 14 of them in attack.
"They walked all over us in rebounds and in terms of intimidation," said Barcelona coach Xavi Pascual after his side's 72-84 defeat in the third match of the series on Saturday. Real Madrid has not won the ACB League since 2007, when Barcelona-born Joan Plaza was in charge.
Real Madrid opened the series with a 76-72 victory before Barça leveled the tie in Madrid by a single point 72-71. The teams met again on Sunday night in Barcelona's Orange Arena where Pascual's men ensured that the playoff this year will go to the final match as it wrapped up a 73-62 win.
The defending champion survived a late rally by the visitor that had brought the score to 63-61 with a couple of minutes on the clock to keep Real's far-from stellar record of winning the league at the first matchball intact.
The series now moves back to Madrid for a final game (Wednesday, 10pm on TVE1) that Real would have hoped would not be necessary.
However, home advantage will be no help to Barcelona's cause as it seeks to repeat last year's feat of winning the ACB League title in the final match of the best-of-five series and in the stadium of its great rival.