Thanks to their powerful standings in European basketball, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid were guaranteed to meet at least six times in 2009-10 going into last night’s Euroleague quarterfinals game; today, that number is seven, as Madrid handed Barça a 70-63 loss, its biggest of the season thus far.
The victory marked Madrid’s second loss in Euroleague play this season and is 43-4 overall; Barcelona has beaten Madrid this season three times in 2009-10, one game each in ACB regular-season, Copa del Rey, and Euroleague quarterfinals play.
The first meeting between the teams, a match in week 14 of ACB play, made the entire season look like a foregone conclusion, indeed, with a 79-57 final score and a highlight clip that was all Barça:
Whether or not Madrid has just created a blueprint to defeating the heretofore damn-near unstoppable Barcelona remains to be seen, but not allowing its ultraquick players to romp in the full-court game is clearly the first step in taking down the Barça beast; Madrid clamped down on the fast break better than any team has against the Blaugrana this season.
Tight defense is also crucial in the halfcourt game: After all, the ACB’s top scoring, FG shooting, stealing, and turnover-committing team is no slouch in setting up an offense, either. Ante Tomic was able to play out of his mind for Madrid, frustrating Barcelona efforts in the paint in contributing four blocks, nearly totally neutralizing Erazem Lorbek (2-of-8 on 2-point FGs in nearly 38 minutes of playing time) and generally cleaning up after Barcelona’s ugly 31.7% overall shooting.
What’s next in this intensifying rivalry? Hopefully more of the same! With at least two games in the best-of-five series left to play, plus a guaranteed date in an ACB game on April 10, plus a likely confrontation in the Spanish League’s championship series, the big hombres of Spanish roundball could end up facing off a crazy 13 times before the season is over.