83-81: Real Madrid take sole lead of the league

The Whites defeated Caja Laboral in overtime, secured their fifth straight win and are the only unbeaten team in the championship

Edu Bueno

Real Madrid suffered during the game and beat Caja Laboral in overtime in the Palacio de los Deportes and are now the undisputed leader of the Endesa League with five wins in five games following yesterday’s defeat of Valencia Basket by Estudiantes. The group led by Pablo Laso, who had five players with more than 10 points with Mirotic the leading scorer with 16, is proving to be the team to beat this season and secured a hard fought win after giving away an 11 point lead in the final stages of the game. With this victory the Whites brought to a close a tough week following matches against Fenerbahce and Caja Laboral in which they have responded as would be expected of a team that wants to be champion.

The match began as evenly as expected between two teams that know how to execute perfection. After a start to the quarter in which both sides showed why they best teams in the league in terms of shooting percentage by scoring almost every time they shot, Madrid began to control the pace of play with a more aggressive defence than their opponent. In attack, Sergio Rodríguez imposed himself on Heurtel and created clear opportunities for Mirotic and Suárez to put the points on the board, finishing the first ten minutes 4 point up (18-14, min.10). The negative for the Whites were personal fouls which resulted in Rudy and Begic being sent to the bench with two each.

A brilliant start to the second quarter for Real Madrid with a 7-0 scoring streak in two minutes which gave them the biggest lead that they were to have in the game (25-17, min.12). Ivanovic had no choice but to stop the match with a timeout. With Cabezas, Oleson and San Emeterio on court, Caja Laboral had their most productive passage of play in attack and in the next three minutes put together a 0-9 scoring streak against the Whites to take the lead with a basket from Pleiss halfway through the quarter (25-26, min.15). The pressure in attack and good work on attacking rebounds by Lampe (eight points) and N. Bjelica (11) broke their comfortable points scoring. Slaughter coming on court gave Real Madrid a greater presence on the paint and he took control of the defensive rebound and started to run things. Then the Whites were in charge. Three counterattacks led by Draper and finished by Carroll, Reyes, with a 2+1 that sent Lampe to the bench with three fouls, and a Mirotic dunk put the home team ahead before the break (41-32, min.20).

If anything distinguishes Caja Laboral it is that that they never give up in a game before the final whistle. Finding themselves on the ropes they reacted in the third quarter of with San Emeterio’s good play. The forward pushed his team and his eight points gave them the lead with another comeback coming from another Real Madrid collapse (45-46, min.25). However, the Whites were able to keep calm and found their game again. With Pocius on San Emeterio and Slaughter-Mirotic winning the battle inside, the Whites slowly restored a comfortable lead of +7 to start the final quarter with (58-51, min.30).

Madrid kept going with the inertia from the end of the third quarter, looking to use Begic’s height advantage and Slaughter’s intensity. A spectacular dunk from the latter, key in the Whites building their lead along with Carroll’s points opened a gap of 11 points in the 37th minute (72-61). Caja Laboral recoiled and were out of ideas in attack, but stayed in the game thanks to N. Bjelica, who by now had reached 23 points. The Whites had controlled the game but surprisingly got carried away and didn’t finish them off. Caja Laboral took advantages of the Whites’ relaxation with a 0-11 scoring steak which levelled the game and took it to overtime after Draper could not score at the buzzer (72-72).

Real Madrid scored first in overtime. Reyes and Mirotic put their team 80-76 in front in the first two minutes, but Lampe again, with five consecutive points, turned the game around. With the score at 80-81 Reyes scored a free throw to tie the score with 30 seconds remaining. Carroll created a turnover in the next Caja Laboral attack and Mirotic secured the Whites fifth victory of the season with a dunk (83-81, min.40).

Match Stats
REAL MADRID 83 (18+23+17+14+11): Sergio Rodríguez (10), Rudy (2), Suárez (4), Mirotic (16) y Begic (6) -cinco inicial- Pocius (5), Draper (4), Reyes (12), Carroll (13), Slaughter (11) y Hernangómez (-).
CAJA LABORAL 81 (14+18+19+21+9): Heurtel (2), Causeur (5), N. Bjelica (25), M. Bjelica (2) y Lampe (22) – cinco inicial – Cabezas (2), San Emeterio (8), N. Bjelica (0), Oleson (11), Pleiss (4) y Hernández Sonseca (-).
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