The Whites, unbeaten in the Palacio de los Deportes, will try to extend the winning streak against Oscar Quintana’s team, who have not beaten them since the 94-95 season (12:40, La 1)
It is a steak that is heading towards becoming a new record, that can’t be bettered at this stage of competition. Real Madrid, who have a 21-1 record in the Endesa League, will look to get another win on Sunday against UCAM Murcia at the Palacio de los Deportes (12:40, La 1). If they manage it they will remain the only unbeaten team at home in the competition and bring an abrupt halt to Murcia’s good feelings who, despite losing last weekend, are having one of their best seasons in ACB with a 10-12 record and are six places from the drop zone. It would be the Whites’ twentieth win in a row against the Murcians, who haven’t beaten them since 94-95. Laso’s team will be without Marty Pocius, whilst Marcus Lewis, their best player, is a doubt for the visitors.
“Real Madrid break down the play, play at their own pace and overwhelm you; you play to score and there they are unbeatable”. These are the words of Oscar Quintana, who has given clear and concise instructions to his men. To win they will have to work the Madrid defense and slow their game down. If not, it will be an uphill battle and Murcia know it. But Real Madrid, despite the fatigue which has led to some jaded performances in recent games, are not dropping any points. The Palacio de los Deportes is their stronghold and Laso’s team will not allow a setback or a loss of concentration to bring to end up a home winning streak that has already lasted three seasons (43-1). Therefore, the goal is clear: to win, get the 22-1 record and keep the momentum at home.
With these objectives, being the leader, top scorers and being the best two-point and three-point shooters Real Madrid are not expecting a very difficult time of it. However, as always, the call for calm and concentration is the message coming from the locker room, as they play against a team that thanks to a record of 10 wins and 12 losses, are keeping their distance from the relegation places. Beating Real Madrid would be a boost for them, so will do all they can to do so. Marcus Lewis, who is Quintana’s team’s leading scorer and player with the highest PIR is a doubt for them. Also, his absence will leave their inside game a little unprotected, where they will only have Kim Tillie, Antelo and Barlow. Meanwhile, for the Whites, following the obvious recovery of Draper, who scored a game saving three-pointer on the buzzer against Brose Baskets, the only absence through injury is Martynas Pocius, who continues to recover from a stress fracture in the distal epiphysis of his right ankle.
With the other players ready to make an appearance, Real Madrid will have to pay special attention to the rebound because, as it has been shown, if they do not control that aspect of the game the rest serves for very little. “Running from defense,” as Laso said during the game against Brose Baskets, is a fundamental weapon in the Real Madrid artillery. Therefore, despite the obvious scoring differences, Real Madrid will have to play well in defense if they want to crush Quintana’s team once again, against whom they have always beat comfortably, except last season in the Palacio de los Deportes, when they won by a single point (80-79). It was only a ‘scare’ however because in the first half of the season, in the away game, they won by a 31-point margin (60-91).
Real Madrid have learned their lesson. It depends on them to overcome the obstacles that Quintana’s team put in their way, whose best players, if Marcus Lewis’ absence is confirmed, are veteran Berni Rodriguez, the former Real Madrid academy player Antelo, who is recording his best stats this season, and the American shooting guard Gatens are those with the best stats in the team. For the Whites, the master of ceremonies and occasional shooting guard, Sergio Llull continues to be unstoppable and in the five games of the second half of the season is averaging 17.6 points and a PIR of 19. There is little to say about Mirotic, who is the competition’s in form player. On the creative side, Sergio Rodriguez, who is in fine form, will be worth watching.