euroleague – rooms – working day 2
A terrific basketball game ended in an embarrassing free-for-all at the WiZink Center. The ball had already decided that Partizan would take the victory on Real Madrid’s court, with a resounding 0-2 win in the Euroleague quarterfinals before visiting Belgrade, when with 1m 40s to go the players from the two teams clashed in a carousel of blows and aggressions.
Llull committed an unsportsmanlike foul on Punter, the American guard turned against the Spanish, both raised their fists against each other and the court became a ring in which Yabusele grabbed Exum by the neck, throwing him violently onto the parquet, as if it was wrestling. The Australian left without being able to walk on his own. Punches, like one from Punter to Musa, had replaced baskets. After many minutes trying to find some peace, talking with the coaches and deciding what to do, the referees signaled that they should no longer play: 80-95. The reason was that neither of the two teams had the minimum of two players to continue the match once up to 21 disqualifications were applied for the incidents, both to those who were on the court and to those who came off the bench. Regardless of the score, he lost the sport.
With the ball at stake, Obradovic’s Partizán clearly dismantled Madrid and tied up a treasure heading to the Final Four. No team in EuroLeague history has come back from 0-2 down. And next week (Tuesday and Thursday) the series visits the Stark Arena in Belgrade, the track with the highest average attendance of the season: 17,763 spectators. The pitched battle in Madrid will only heat the atmosphere more.
The duel had begun to be played in the infirmary. Out of the Tavares contest, Madrid pressed with the wounded. Randolph appeared as a five-man in the starting team despite poor shooting (he returned to play less than a month ago after missing nine with a broken crusader) and Poirier was rushed in despite an appendix operation 21 days ago. The change of pieces, the rush and the absence of the lighthouse that is always the Cape Verde tower led to a 0-9 start. Chus Mateo soon reached out to Poirier before the evidence that the team needed size and intimidation against a Partizán that fearlessly headed for the basket (9-18) in a very eventful match. The white coach also resorted to the stripes of Llull and Rudy, and the captain and Musa breathed oxygen into their team from the perimeter.
The match was played at many revolutions and smoke was coming out of the heads of the coaches. Exum struck inside and out, a martyrdom for the whites with 11 points in the first quarter. Madrid was diluted in defense like a sugar: 21-31.
Rudy had detected the alarm signal and grabbed the wheel at a critical moment. The boss multiplied to score and to bite in defense, throwing himself on the floor as if he were a youth and not a 38-year-old legend. Deck danced between the positions of three and four, out of place between so many changes of roles. Madrid moved launched by arreones of fury more than under a collective score. Hezonja, for example, showed off his extensive repertoire to press the match (28-31). The Wizink applauded the rest of the warrior Rudy almost at the same time that the suffering Poirier accompanied him on the bench. The gap then reopened thanks to the success of Smailagic and the awakening of Punter. Mateo’s group was once again walking through the darkness, a victim of bewilderment. When the halftime bell rang, he was out: 37-51.
To turn on the light, Madrid played Sergio Rodríguez. Punter charged with his third foul eight seconds into the third quarter and a combination of two dunks from Poirier and Musa and a triple from Rudy brought the Whites back to life (48-53), reinforced with a zone defense. Just when he was against the ropes, the boxer got up in the midst of the uproar of the Palace. But a triple by James Nunnally accompanied in that action by Poirier’s fourth foul meant another straight to the jaw of the Spanish team. Punter continued with the pecking and Lessort grew under the hoop, forcing Madrid to renew the fever with which they had emerged from the locker room. Mateo’s team defended with Yabusele in the heart of the zone (the French center only threw once, out of three, in the entire match) and the knife between his teeth. There was still a movie ahead, as two external bingos of the eternal Rudy made clear. The forward was a reflection of Madrid’s need to make the most of each of its resources. Despite everything, the whites ran with their tongues hanging out, to the limit: 62-75 before the decisive quarter.
Punter invented another impossible triple to further steepen the challenge of the comeback. Partizán could play at will with the clock while Madrid had to rely on much more than the heroic. The shooters of the Serbian team did not shake their hands, but hit from a distance and in penetrations. The white players looked at the ground when a triple by Poirier did not touch the ring (72-89). Madrid did not even find on this occasion the pride that had rescued it on other occasions when the game failed. The last moments only served for the temperature to rise until the tangana with which the crash ended. A great match ended in the worst of ways.
R. MADRID, 80; PARTIZAN, 95
Real Madrid: Williams-Goss (6), Musa (13), Deck (8), Randolph (0) and Yabusele (3) —starting five—; Hanga (0), Rudy Fernández (16), Sergio Rodríguez (2), Llull (4), Poirier (12) and Hezonja (16).
Partizan: Madar (4), Punter (14), Papapetrou (6), Leday (15) and Lessort (10) —starting five—; Avramovic (4), Smailagic (7), Nunnally (16), Trifunovic (-) and Exum (19).
Partial: 21-31, 16-20, 25-24 and 18-20.
Referees: Radovic, Latisevs and Rocha. They eliminated Poirier, Deck, Punter and Exum.
WiZink Center: 10,267 viewers.
In the other quarterfinal match, Monaco, 86; Maccabi, 74 (1-1 in the series). This Friday, Barça – Zalgiris (20:00, Dazn; 1-0 in the series) and Olympiacos – Fenerbahçe (20:45; 1-0 in the series).
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