Real Madrid advanced into the final of the Spanish ACB Liga Endesa with an 84-90 win over Valencia, while arch rival Barcelona was defeated by Unicaja Malaga. In victory, Real Madrid became the first club to punch its ticket to the championship series, while Malaga and Barcelona will play a decisive fifth game in their semi-final on Sunday.
Valencia vs. Real Madrid, 84-90
Euroleague champion Madrid has been in hot form and saw off an always tricky Valencia outfit 3-1 to book a place in the final. Both teams got off to good starts and traded buckets during the first quarter, but eventually Real Madrid carved out a 22-24 lead. In the second quarter Valencia continued to look hot under the offensive post and the home team used a 27-23 frame to take the lead through halftime (49-47). The hosts could not maintain the momentum after the long break and Los Blancos punished them by pouring in 25 points on the way to a 66-72 lead through thirty minutes. Valencia attempted a rally in the final act, but Madrid looked professional in holding the six point lead and seeing out the game.
Felipe Reyes, Rudy Fernandez, and Andres Nocioni all bagged 12 points in the win, while Sergio Llull and Gustavo Ayon picked up 10 points apiece.
Bojan Dubljevic topped the scoring with 24 points for Valencia, while adding 8 rebounds in a strong personal effort. He was followed by Vladimir Lucic with 14 points, Guillem Vives with 13 points, and Roman Sato with 10 points.
Unicaja Malaga vs. Barcelona, 77-66
Unicaja Malaga has fought back from the brink against Barcelona and won the last two games to tie the series 2-2, sending it to a fifth and deciding contest this Sunday. The hosts have all the momentum for that final game and in the first quarter here looked confident in opening a 20-14 advantage. Things got better for the south coast club as Barca capitulated in the second quarter, allowing Unicaja to go on a 21-10 run that made it 41-24 through the long break. The visitors managed to edge the third period 14-16 to reduce the deficit to two points through half hour (55-40). Malaga had the crowd and the points thought, and despite more Barcelona spirit in the fourth the hosts held on for a comfortable win.
Interestingly, Malaga put in an awesome team effort as only Jayson Granger scored double figures with 11 points.
Marcelinho Huertas topped Barcelona with 14 points, while Ante Tomic and Tomas Satoransky both added 10 points for the Catalan giant.