Real Madrid downed Power Electronics Valencia 71-65
Sparks flew at the Caja Magic in Madrid in the Game of the Week, but when the dust settled, Real Madrid had racked a 71-65 win over Power Electronics Valencia for a 1-0 in their best-of-five Playoff series, good for a spot in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four. Despite a strong start by the hosts, dominating the offensive rebounds, Valencia was back in the game soon and neither team managed to pull decisive leads until the last moments. Nikola Mirotic, who had remained scoreless until the last period, hit 11 points in the decisive quarter, including a game-breaking three, to put the first win on Real Madrid's column. Both teams with recover now for Game 2 of the series to be played also in Madrid next Thursday. Ante Tomic led the winners with his 14 points, and Sergio Llull and Mirotic added 11 each. For Valencia, Nando De Colo had 15 points, Rafa Martinez 13, Robertas Javtokas 11 and Serhiy Lishchuk 10.
Action started in Madrid with Real Madrid pushing hard in defense, which allowed them to quickly climb to a 5-0 lead after Pablo Prigioni's three. Power
Electronics Valencia was having some problems in offense and tried to look for the big men inside as Dusko Savanovic scored to get the guests going, but
Carlos Suarez replied with a new three, 8-2. When Ante Tomic committed his sceond foul, he went to the bench and Serhiy Lishchuk seemed to appear inside for
Valencia as he managed to hit three points in a row for 12-7. Real Madrid was trying to run and thanks to Sergio Llull and his five straight points including
a three, the first double-digit lead appeared on the scoreboard, 17-7. Lishchuk was insisting down low as Valencia also tried to perform the defensive
pressure at every chance. It started to pay off as the guests seemed to find better spots to shoot from and also managed to run a few time as Jeremy
Richardson hit four straight points and he was soon joined by Nando De Colo with a drive for 19-16 as Real Madrid was having the problems it had not found at
the beginning with the Valencia defense. In the last play, after fighting for a couple of offensive rebounds, David Navarro still had the time for a final
basket on the quarter buzzer for 20-18 after 10 minutes.
Fischer opened the score in the second quarter for Real Madrid, but Robertas Javtokas replied soon for Valencia in the paint and Savanovic blasted ahis
team's first three to finally put Valencia ahead at 22-23. The hosts were having real trouble to find the rim of the opponent and Valencia's patience in
offense completely changed the face of the game. Madrid's dominance of rebounds was what was keeping the hosts in the game, as the 11 offensive rebounds at
that point were allowing them more shooting attempts. Defenses were pushing hard at full throttle on both ends, and points came in scarce. Florent Pietrus scored the 22-24 from the line, but it had to be Lishchuk and his determination in the paint the ones to score a new basket for Valencia, 22-26. Lishchuk forced Mirza Begic's third foul in three minutes, but he missed both free throws for a 3 of 10 from the stripe for the guests. In a play of inspiration Suarez hit a three to put the hosts back in the driver's seat, but this time Lishchuk tied it from the stripe again, 27-27. Rafa Martinez hit a bomb to launch Valencia, but six straight points by captain Felipe Reyes lifted Madrid in the last minute to make it 33-32 for the hosts at the break.
The third quarter started on a high note for Real Madrid led by Reyes. The hosts tried to run igniting the stand with every bakset while Valencia tried to keep up. Llull ran to cap a 10-4 run to start the second half that forced the first timeout of the period with a 43-36 score. Javtokas finally put back Omar Cook's miss to give Valencia some air, but on the other end Real Madrid kept pulling offensive boards for extra options in offense. De Colo however, rose from the arc to blast in a bomb from downtown that tied the game again with not much noise, 43-43. Martinez put the guests back on the leading track with a 0-7 run, but the score kept going back and forth thanks to Fischer's dunk. Cook was starting to set a new pace for his team as a solid court general, but Madrid had already pulled as many offensive rebounds as the total boards of Valencia. Nikola Mirotic scored his first points from the side and he soon added the second to keep the game tied, 49-49. The third period entered the last minute with De Colo culminating the transition with a layup and Llull replying with his own basket. But it would be De Colo from the line who would close the period with a 52-53 after 30 minutes.
Mirotic fed Tomic to start the last period and Real Madrid was back in command but Pietrus stole for a fastbreak dunk that evened things out for Valencia. The guests seemed to get their act together in the defensive rebounds now, but the ball didn't go in in offense. Tomic appeared again for points and intensity didn't even make a hint of going down on either side. The fight under the boards was at its peak and Mirotic forced a new foul to hit two free throws for 60-57 and his seventh point in the quarter. Javtokas finally stroke for Valencia in a drive for the basket and he soon hit a similar one off Savanovic¡s assist to make it 62-61 entering the last 4 minutes. Tomic stopped the bleeding with two free throws but with that kind of tension, both teams were extremely selective with the shots. Clay Tucker shot an airball that was replied with two points by De Colo making it 64-63 with 90 seconds to go. In the following play, Tomic was called for travelling and De Colo hit a new long jumper to make it Valencia's game again, 64-65. Mirotic replied fast with a new basket and De Colo missed his turn and this time Mirotic wanted to end ir for good with his 11th point in the quarter with a three from the corner that made it 69-65 with 18 seconds to go. De Colo missed again a turnaround jumper and Prigioni sealed the win from the line to make it 1-0 for Real Madrid.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011