By Eurohoops team / [email protected]
Barcelona beat Real Madrid 81 – 76 on the road to sweep their archrivals 2 – 0 in the EuroLeague regular season and capture their third straight win in the competition. The Blaugrana became the first team to mathematically secure a playoffs spot.
One team that Barcelona may face in the playoffs is Real Madrid since this loss dropped the 2018 champions to 17 – 12 and the seventh spot in the standings.
Pierre Oriola had 18 points and six rebounds to lead Barcelona while Nikola Mirotic produced 13 points, five rebounds and five assists, Kyle Kyric delivered 11 points plus five assists and Calathes scored 11 for the winning squad.
“It is true that in the last few games, I had enough energy and had the strengths that I always have,” Oriola said. “I came in focused, it is a ‘Clasico’ and you have to be focused. I am happy for the win, for helping the team win.”
Gabriel Deck had a team-high 17 points for Real. Edy Tavares posted a double-double of 16 points plus 11 rebounds and Alberto Abalde contributed 11 points.
“In general terms, we did a great job,” Deck said. “We competed until the final moments, which is something we didn’t do in previous games, so we have to keep working and follow this way of competing and always giving our best.”
The game was a very close battle from start to finish and with multiple lead changes, especially in the second half. Barcelona became the first team to escape by four points when Oriola drained a 3-pointer for the 69 – 73 with three minutes to play.
His team retained a small, yet steady advantage for the rest of the match. In a key moment, with the score 72 – 75 and a minute remaining, Mirotic blocked Deck’s layup attempt and Cory Higgins sent the pass to Oriola who scored the bucket for the five-point lead. Higgins then drained multiple pairs of free throws to secure his team’s advantage and not allow Real an opportunity to even tie the score.
This is how Barcelona coach Sarunas Jasikevicius described his job, especially during such a game. “If we are in this profession, we like suffering,” he added.
“I really want to congratulate our players and our fans,” Jasikevicius also said. “It is an important victory, as every time we play here. I think that the game was exactly as we expected: a tough, physical game with a lot of nervousness. Tactically, when it came to details, I don’t think we did very well. We prepared a lot of things, trying to anticipate how Madrid would play. We didn’t do very well, we gave Madrid a lot of easy baskets and they were able to get confidence. In the end, any team could have won, but I believe Cory and Niko did some very important plays so that we could win.
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball
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