Real claims ACB League title

Pablo Laso’s side defeats Barcelona for first crown on home turf in 20 years

Real Madrid's players and coaching staff celebrate the club's first ACB title since 2007.
Real Madrid's players and coaching staff celebrate the club's first ACB title since 2007.ÁLVARO GARCÍA

After at least denting Barcelona’s hegemony on the soccer field by claiming the 2012 title, winning the ensuing Supercup and going unbeaten against the eternal rival last season, Real Madrid finally cracked the riddle that was beating Barcelona Regal on the basketball court Wednesday, even if it required the full five games of the ACB League playoff final.

It had been 20 years since Real claimed the title in front of its own fans and the Palacio de Deportes in Madrid was seething with white as the home side sought to seal a series that proved to be one of the most balanced in history: the score on the night was 79-71, and the biggest win Real’s 72-84 triumph in game three in Barcelona.

The sensation is that Real’s 31st league title will not prove to represent as fleeting a power shift as that of its soccer counterpart, which surrendered La Liga to Barça with a 15-point deficit this season; since Vitorian coach Pablo Laso took the reins, Real has won the league, the King’s Cup and the Supercup, all at the expense of Barcelona.

“I’m proud of my players,” said the Real coach. “It was the final that we had dreamed of and the perfect end to a great season.”

“Nobody deserves this more than us,” said Real captain Felipe Reyes, who was named the final’s most valuable player, as he was the last time his side won the league in 2007. “It’s been a long and hard season and we have fought for everything until the end. This is our reward. It was about time as we have lost several finals and now we can look ahead to the future rather than thinking about the past.”

Real’s eventual triumph was the fruit of nine months of competition, 76 competitive matches (61 wins and 15 losses) and 3,755 points. The final 76 were shared out fairly evenly by the home side with Reyes (14), Rudy Fernández (15) and Tremmell Darden (13) leading the scoring. Barcelona relied heavily on Sarunas Jasikevicius (23) and Xavier Rabaseda (25) to remain in touch, with no other player reaching double figures.

Barcelona was also hindered by the injury sustained by talisman Juan Carlos Navarro in game four. Furthermore, Xavi Pascual revealed after the match that Jasikevicius had played with a broken rib and Marko Todorovic with a broken finger. “We started very badly,” said the Barcelona coach. “At 10-0 they had the bit between their teeth and our confidence took a serious blow. It was a difficult match and we had to fight to stay in it. We showed character and had our opportunities but we weren’t at our best today. We had 17 turnovers to Madrid’s two and they had 20 more shots than we did. It’s impossible to beat them like that.”

Women in Euro action

Meanwhile, Spain’s women’s basketball team got off to a flying start in the second group phase of the 2013 European Championship in France, defeating the Slovak Republic 80-44 in Lille on Thursday.

Sancho Lyttle scored 18 points as Spain dominated from start to finish, outscoring the opposition in each quarter and summoning 35 points from the bench to 17. Up 44-22 at halftime the outcome was never in doubt but Montenegro will pose a stiffer test in Spain’s next match.

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