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31.05.2009 14:22

First step towards the final (70-62)

Verònica Díez

Regal Barça has won the first game of its ACB League semi-final against Unicaja Malaga (70-62). It was a hard fought victory decided in the final minutes, and with the series now standing at 1-0 the Catalans have taken a big stride toward the final.

Xavi Pascual’s men had to work hard to beat the Malaga outfit. Carlos Cabeza got Unicaja back into the game in the second quarter and the match was evenly balanced right up until the end. Lakovic, Vázquez and Andersen were the best Barça players.

Strong start

QM3D8110.jpgBarça came out strongly and dominated the early exchanges with Santiago and Andersen making the difference with defensive rebound turnovers. The Catalans scored 7 unanswered points to begin the game as Unicaja looked lost on court and unable to breach Barça’s defence. The first quarter ended at 17 to 7, the biggest lead of the game.

Cabezas gets Unicaja back in the game

Carlos Cabeza was the star of the second quarter as he got his side back in the contest, with three triples on the spin putting Aíto García Reneses’s men just one point behind at 22-21 five minutes after the restart. Carlos Jiménez then put Unicaja ahead for the first time at 22-23.

QM3D8232.jpgFrom then on the game became very evenly balanced with good defence on both sides and poor shooting meaning neither team was able to build a big lead. Gomis made it 24-28, to give Unicaja its largest lead of the game, but Andersen pulled two points back before halftime (26-28).

Stepping up the tempo

At the start of the second half Unicaja showed they were ready to take the game to Barça who began the period off colour. Then when Ndong made it 33-38 the Catalans said enough is enough and scored 8 unanswered points to go ahead by 41-38. It was still an even contest and the visitors won an exchange of free throws to be ahead by 47-48 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Lakovic makes the difference

QM3D8269.jpgThere were now just ten minutes to go and Lakovic soon set to work. In the seventh minute he took advantage of a defensive error to put FC Barcelona ahead at 60-58, a score which changed the game entirely. Gradually Barça pulled further ahead as Unicaja were unable to respond, and the Catalans finally ran out winners by 70 to 62 to give them the upper hand in the tie.
First step towards the final (70-62)

Regal FC Barcelona (17+9+21+23): Lakovic (14), Navarro (12), Barton (2), Andersen (12), Santiago (3) – starting five – Basile (8), Vázquez (11), Ilyasova (5), Sada (2) and Grimau (1).

Unicaja de Málaga (7+21+20+14): Cook (3), Rodríguez (2), Welsh (4), Jiménez (5), Ndong (14) – starting five – Cabezas (15), Archibald (8), Gomis (4), Haislip (4) and Kelati (3).

Referees: Mitjana, Hierrezuelo and Redondo.

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