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17.01.2008 21:49

First defeat against Real Madrid (82-79)

Sònia de Alba

AXA Barça were narrowly beaten by Real Madrid in the final quarter of their encounter in the Spanish capital after coming back from 15 points ahead to take the lead.

Dusko Ivanovic's Blaugrana team made a memorable turnaround as they wiped out the home team's advantage to take the lead at the end of the third period. But Madrid bounced back and their offensive display in the closing minutes and an unsporting foul by Sánchez on Tunçeri in the final seconds ended Barça's hopes. The call may have been rigorous, but the worst thing for the away side was that possession was given to their opponents and they did not miss any of the free shots.

Bad start

RM-FCB_3.JPGAnti-sporting calls were made few and far between, but the first came when Denis Marconato was penalised for an incident with Lazaros Papadopoulos, when the Barça star did not appear to touch any with his arm. The next one was to prove to be decisive as it came in the last few moments.

Tension was high and there was a lot of contact in a game that saw Madrid start very brightly. While the home team continued to score freely, Barça remained stuck on nine points and ended the first quarter 15 points behind, as the scoreline read 26-11.

Defensive duties

After the first break, the Blaugrana began to play and gradually Pepe Sánchez came into his own, while Basile and Grimau shored up the defence and helped Barcelona to edge to within two points of their opponents (35-33) as half-time approached.

Free-scoring run

The third quarter began with Barça coming out strongly and Sánchez was able to set up Fran Vázquez who in turn netted a couple of superb baskets to silence the home crowd.

Ilyasova was also on top form by now and AXA Barça pulled back to 51-50. Then, Acker was able to finally push the visitors ahead as Ilyasova fought for the ball under Madrid's hoop and Sánchez picked out the American to net the vital two points (51-52).

That lead was extended when Ilyasova sank a triple, but Louis Bullock and Charles Smith started to come into the game for Madrid.

Bullock had finished the first 20 minutes with no points to his name, but by the end of the game he had 14. Smith also chalked up point as he continued on his way to his final tally of 12. Hervelle was also influential as he challenged Marconato as the home side continued to push ahead.

The final push

RM-FCB_1.JPGWith the scoreline reading 68-59, AXA Barça called a time out, but that did not affect Ilyasova who maintained his rhythm and he reduced the arrears further, to 70-64, with four minutes of the quarter remaining.

Acker then sank a long range effort to pull his side three points close, but the points continued to flow at both ends as Bullock netted a triple, which quickly followed by a three-pointer from Sánchez.

The race was on as the end of the game approached and Bullock scored from distance before free throws maintained Barça's chances. Tunceri then sank a six-metre shot matched with free throw, before the unsporting foul Sánchez allowed Tunceri to seal the outcome with free throws 21 seconds from time.

From Madrid to the Canaries

The AXA Barcelona basketball team travel from Madrid to the Canary Islands on Saturday where they take on Gran Canaria in the Pabellón Insular at 20:00.
Photos: Euroleague.net
Photos: Euroleague.net

Real Madrid
Smith (12), Reyes (14), Papadopoulos (7), Mumbrú (5), Tunçeri (11) –starting team- Pelekanos (-), Sekulic (2), Aguilar (-), Hervelle (13), Bullock (14), Llull (4), López (-)

Marconato (2), Lakovic (3), Ilyasova (12), Acker (11), Kasun (12) –starting team- Basile (10), Sánchez (5), Trias (-), Vázquez (10), Moncasi (-), Grimau (14)

By quarter: 26-11; 14-24; 16-20; 26-24

Referees: Koukoulekidis, Voreadis, Pukl

Click here to see the official match statistics

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