Basketball, in Spain, is a sport played five against five in which Madrid or Barça (almost) always win. The two greats have shared the last 12 Copas del Rey (six for each) and in Granada they will play the classic ninth for the title in the last 13 editions. At the end of the final this Sunday (6:30 p.m., #Vamos), the Whites and the Barça players will have shared 33 of the last 37 national titles disputed. A predictable end next to the Alhambra, but with a surprising scenario.
Barça beat a soulful UCAM Murcia, who pushed their threshold of resilience to unheard of extremes to overcome 16 points of disadvantage and fight against Goliath the game until the last minutes. McFadden brought down the work of Laprovittola and between Mirotic and Kuric (14 points including 11 in the last quarter) they straightened the title holder’s course.
The night was worth several lives. Laprovittola marked the way and Barça took a run in a jiffy, again without brakes as against Manresa. Freed from the responsibility of lifting the ball, the Argentine point guard has been Barca’s artificer this season and it didn’t take long for him to blow up the game, scoring 8 points and 2 of 3 from three before he even broke a sweat. Undetectable to the radars of rival defenses and accurate as in his mvp days with Joventut, Lapro He clearly saw the gold mine heading into the final against a stiff and nervous Murcia. After tightening their forces to perfect the feat against Valencia in the quarter-finals, Sito Alonso’s team sinned with innocence and error (1 out of 11 in the starting baskets) in the staging.
Shocked by the panorama and with misplaced arguments, UCAM languished on the court and on the scoreboard against an irrepressible Barça. From 16-6 after six minutes, to the resounding 32-16 with which the first quarter ended. In their particular cup time trial, Jasikevicius’ men nearly overtook their rival on the starting straight. With a 5 of 6 in double shots, a 6 of 8 from the perimeter, and a powerful pedaling like a rollerblade. A Barca storm that Webb and Cate barely managed to put down.
But Barca’s stampede was so impetuous that it raised a cloud of dust in which even the Barca team was lost. They lost perspective and the chain broke. Now without fear or pressure, Murcia insisted on paying another tribute to Granada. Barca sinned enough, lowered the piston, fell into the Murcian rhythm and conceded a crack through which a fast-paced McFadden slipped. The American shooter, trained in Burgos for heroic exploits, entered the fire and led a series of 9-27 which allowed Murcia to return from beyond the grave to resume the game (43-43, m. 17 ). The many paprika lovers unleashed the if possible while rubbing his eyes. He returned to Laprovittola to dry his side’s sweat with five straight points but, by then, UCAM’s defensive improvement had turned them into a tough and unapologetic side. Barca left at intermission feeling like they hadn’t finished setting the chain to start rolling again.
The duel between Laprovittola and McFadden ended 16-12 in favor of the Argentine. But Murcia responded to Barca’s 9 out of 16 hat-tricks with a 6 out of 11. Sito Alonso’s side went from 32 points conceded in the first quarter to 33 scored in the second. An exciting show with 104 points in 20 minutes (55-49) and the feeling of having pulled out of limbo a match that seemed doomed in the prologue.
But there was plenty of romance to come. When Barca woke up, McFadden was still hitting hat-tricks. And his feverish agitation was joined by Taylor, Webb and all the Murcia supporters (59-59, m. 23). UCAM finished the Cup with passion as fuel. And Tomás Bellas embraced the feat with another triple that completed the deflection on the scoreboard (65-66, m. 27). Czerapowicz was more than Jokubaitis in that stretch, Jasikevicius’ screams were lost in the hubbub from the stands and Augusto Lima crashed to make it 65-70. Mirotic’s step forward failed and, with six consecutive points from his star, Barça managed to cross the finish line in front (73-72, m. 30).
It didn’t matter to McFadden that, shaking up his resistance threshold, he came back to equalize (78-78, m. 33). But every minute, as the Sierra Nevada rose, the illusion and suffocation of Murcia multiplied. To the limit of his strength. Jokubaitis and Kuric were Barca’s oxygen and McFadden’s body said enough was enough, dropping exhausted and injured as Jasikevicius’ men warmed up (89-80, m. 35). Kuric’s third triple moved the proud Murcian tank from the Mirador de San Nicolás, overlooking the Alhambra, to the Paseo de los Tristes to mourn with honor What could have been and wasn’t. Almighty Barca were in the final to try to defend the title in the never-ending classic. A predictable end after a surprising scenario.
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