Real Madrid dominated the first game of the finals

The Spanish ACB League Finals kicked off yesterday, with Game 1 being played in the Palau Blaugrana in Barcelona. The semifinals didn’t offer any surprises, so FC Barcelona’s opponent in the Final is their arch-rival Real Madrid.

The two teams met less than a month ago, on the 19th of May, in the EuroLeague semifinals in Belgrade. Surprisingly for most people, Real won that game 86-83 and the regular season winners Barcelona had to settle for 3rd place in the competition. That win in the Final Four could be a psychological advantage for Real in this Finals series, and it boosted the confidence of Real’s players, as guard Fabien Causeur said in an interview before Game 1. Unfortunately, Pablo Laso has to miss probably the whole series, as his recent health issues prevent him to coach the team from the bench. Thus, his assistant Chus Mateo took the head coaching responsibilities for these games.

Barca started the game better, taking a 5-0 lead after five quick points scored by their star player Nikola Mirotic. The home team also lead 7-4, but the Blaugrana fans that filled Palau didn’t expect that this will be the last time their team will have the lead in the game. Madrid started to hit every shot and scored 30 points in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Real continued to play amazing basketball and even built a 20-point lead (29-49). After the break, the lead grew even more in favour of the Blancos who already had a 23-point lead after three quarters (51-74). Barca managed to gain some momentum only in the last quarter, but it was too late for a ‘’remontada’’ and the final score was 75-88.

The MVP of the game was Argentinian Gabriel Deck, who scored 18 points and finished with a PIR of 20. Adam Hanga was the second-best scorer and had a good contribution overall against his former team. The Hungarian guard scored all his 16 points in the first quarter and also added 6 assists in the game. French players Fabien Causeur (15 points) and Guerschon Yabusele (11 points, 9 rebounds) also played great. For the home team, Nico Laprovittola was the best scorer (15 points), followed by EuroLeague MVP Nikola Mirotic (13 points). There was a very unfortunate moment too in the game when Real forward Anthony Randolph suffered (it seems) a serious injury and could face another long-term absence from the court.

Game 2 will be played tomorrow evening. Barca won the regular season and most people saw the Catalan team as the clear favourite to win the title. However, Madrid once again proved that the experience of their veteran players is key and the series will be much more interesting than most people expected.

Image credit: Liga ACB
Imre Halasz