euroleague working day 19
Real Madrid comes out of the double date in the Euroleague this week undefeated and exalted as the sole leader of the standings, waiting for what Barcelona does this Friday. Chus Mateo’s men achieved their 13th victory of the season against Alba Berlin (77-84) in a cheating match that seemed resolved for the whites before the break, but which ended with both teams having options to win straight away final. After enjoying a 19-point advantage, Madrid allowed Alba to be just one basket away from achieving a tie in the last quarter (64-66), but a great Musa appeared to awaken his team and seal a victory that it almost slipped through their hands.
Those of Chus Mateo fell into a trap of which they were already warned. Just two days ago, Red Star lifted 13 points from them and put the Whites on the ropes in Belgrade. Alba Berlin, one of the most attractive teams in the Euroleague, knew that the whites are not always right when it comes to managing the advantage and they would have their chance if they waited for their moment. With an agile game and many three-pointers, they came back from the grave and were about to give Real Madrid a romp, which again showed its best version after seeing the wolf’s ears again.
Madrid began in steamroller mode, with Sergio Rodríguez at the controls. The point guard from the Canary Islands (six points and four assists) went from more to less but left a historic record, surpassing 3,500 points in the Euroleague, the sixth highest scorer in the history of the tournament. Causeur got the first stretch with two triples in a row to put the +9 (10-19) and Alba could not find a way to get to the basket, denied in the shots of two (he only hit one until midway through the second quarter). Madrid had a great time defending an overexcited rival, who they managed on both sides of the track. A new three-pointer from Chacho opened what seemed like an insurmountable gap of +19 (15-34) in a 11-2 run for the whites at the start of the second quarter.
Israel González’s men showed no signs of reacting, hanging on Jaleen Smith’s triples. The shooting guard was the only element that escaped Madrid’s control, author of four triples in the first half. His push infected the team and the stands, which tightened the screws to get to the break alive (35-46). Madrid had lost their momentum although they still had a notable advantage and Alba took advantage of the overconfidence of the whites. Resources from the perimeter got the Teutons back into the game. Three straight three-pointers from Maodo Lo, Mattisseck and Delow put them within 5 points of the comeback (57-62) while Madrid barely weathered the storm.
Once again, as in Belgrade, Madrid envisioned the abyss of the comeback, which was a hair’s breadth away from completion at the start of the last quarter. A new triple by Blatt made it 64-66, the shortest distance since the first minutes of the game. Madrid needed to react and they found their favorite agitator this week in the Euroleague: Dzanan Musa. The Bosnian went unnoticed during the first half but donned the hero’s cape in the final minutes, leading his team’s defense and attack, scoring 9 of his 15 points in the last quarter. His success returned the lead to +10 (67-75) after several moments of trouble, although Madrid did not claim victory until Llull took one of his stratospheric mandarins to put the icing on the cake (74-84) at 30 seconds from the end.
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