With the Eurocup and Euroleague on a break, it is cup season around the continent, and no domestic cup is bigger than the Copa Del Rey. The Spanish cup brings all the glitz and glamor of a major competition and it remains among the most prestigious tournaments in Europe. On Friday the semi-final positions were decided after four games between the top eight teams in Spanish Basketball.
Three of the games went to form as Liga Endesa giants and perennial Copa Del Rey winners Real Madrid and Barcelona both punched their ticket to the last four. Current league leaders Unicaja Malaga also booked their spot in the semis. There was one surprise on Friday as Joventut downed 2015 Copa Del Rey hosts Herbalife Gran Canaria.
Real Madrid vs. CAI Zaragoza, 85-73
Reigning champions Real Madrid went through to the semi-final stage with a routine win over CAI Zaragoza. The teams locked through the first quarter 21-21, before Zaragoza made life difficult for Los Blancos through halftime, 37-41. The Real Madrid players responded with a big 30-15 run in the third act and a cruising final quarter (18-17) to win the game after a solid second half display. Rudy Fernandez set the pace for the winners with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Jaycee Carroll added 13 points.
Herbalife Gran Canaria vs. FIATC Joventut Badalona, 67-74
The shock of Friday was undoubtedly Joventut’s defeat over tournament hosts Gran Canaria, especially since the home club was a favourite heading into the contest. It took a big comeback effort for the visitors to eventually find the win, as Joventut trailed 53-48 through thirty minutes. In the fourth quarter the away team found inspiration from Sergi Vidal and drained 26 points while holding the hosts to 14. Vidal gathered 21 points overall for Joventut and was the high scorer ahead of Gran Canaria’s Kyle Kuric with 19 points.
Unicaja Malaga vs. Bilbao Basket, 86-78
Current Liga Endesa pace setter, Unicaja Malaga, will be looking to prove its credentials to sit alongside Barcelona and Real Madrid by winning the cup. The south coast club looked competent in putting away Bilbao Basket to progress to the semi-finals. Unicaja led throughout the game after taking a lead in the opening exchanges and won three quarters before easing through the fourth despite losing it. Jayson Granger’s 18 points kept the buckets flowing for Malaga and kept Bilbao at arm’s length throughout the contest.
Barcelona vs. Valencia, 85-80
Barcelona has not been firing on all cylinders this season, but victory in the Copa Del Rey would prove a perfect tonic and tee up the rest of the campaign. The Catalan giant had too much for Valencia, although the current Eurocup champs never let Barca off the hook in an exciting game. Barcelona won the first frame 25-21 and consolidated with a 19-17 streak in the second to lead 44-38 through the long break. Valencia never let go, but ultimately could not break Barca’s hold, despite winning the second half (41-42). Alex Abrines and Justin Doellman logged 16 apiece for the winning effort, while Ante Tomic was his usual dynamic best as he picked up 14 points and 7 boards.