Tough win tonight, we made it hard for ourselves. We need to keep getting better as a team and were still missing

Real Madrid have won the Sportquarters tournament of Guadalajara beating Asefa Estudiantes by three points in a very tight final. Nikola Mirotic, with 21 points and seven rebounds, led the way again for the team managed by Pablo Laso in the victory of the first derby game of the season and the prelude to the Community of Madrid Tournament, which will take place next Sunday. The Whites remain undefeated in a pre-season campaign which has seen them win two tournaments.

Tribute was paid to Lull and Rudy, who were in the starting quintet, along with the other two Olympic medallists Sergio Rodríguez and Reyes, during the introduction to the game and Real Madrid took the initiative from the start in what was an almost perfect opening. They were already ahead by 15-2 after 5 minutes, with six points from the guard Mahón and another five from Mirotic, as they bombarded Estudiantes from 6.75 with three triple pointers. Txus Vidorreta stemmed the flow of Real Madrid points and, after the timeout, his team improved in attack with English undertaking the role as scorer (eight points) and a score of 8-19 neutralised the deficit at the end of this quarter (23-21, min. 10).

In spite of that, the Whites gave the impression that they were controlling the game. When they came under pressure, they raised their game again. This time it was Sergio Rodríguez who gave greater pace to Real Madrid through counterattacks, by assisting and scoring. Two consecutive triple pointers were a carbon copy of what happened at the start of the game. Another score of 7-0 and the Whites again with +9 in the 14th minute. With this cushion, Laso’s men fell into a comfort zone and lowered their intensity, losing efficiency in their shots and conceding more and more possession in the process. Estudiantes took full advantage to turn the tables on the score from defence. Granger imposed his strength in leadership and the Brazilian pivot supported him in attack with an outstanding piece of play under the hoop. Surprisingly, Real Madrid went into the break a point behind (41-42, min. 20).

The dynamics of the game changes after the break and points were exchanged and the score board ebbed and flowed. Rudy scored the points for Real Madrid and the Sergio Rodríguez-Slaugther pairing, a combination which will excite fans, was involved in a spectacular piece of play with two alley oops which ended with the American bombarding Estudiantes’ basket. That was the best play of a quarter in which the pace of the game slowed excessively. A triple pointer from Mirotic almost from the horn put Madrid +1 up going into the final period (59-58, min. 30).

In keeping with what happened in the first thirty minutes, the team to raise its intensity and concentration a touch would go on to win the game. No reaction was forthcoming until the last five minutes when both teams really went in search of the victory. The new Whites’ signing, Draper, stepped up and boosted Real Madrid scoring 5-0 (73-66, min. 36). When the game seemed won for the Whites, two consecutive triple pointers from Gabriel and Kirksay with 20 seconds remaining equalled the score meaning the final could go either way.

But Madrid are a very resourceful team and were able to take full advantage of its resources. On came Suárez, who captured a golden rebound which included a foul after a free throw missed the target from Slaugther with 14 seconds left to play. The two free throws were scored making it 77-75. Estudiantes were unable to break down the solid defence of Real Madrid in the final possession and Mirotic killed the game off with a free throw giving the Whites their second trophy of this pre-season (78-75, min. 40). The Whites will meet Estudiantes again in a week’s time in Leganés for the Community of Madrid Trophy, where Real Madrid will try to defend their title.

REAL MADRID 78 (23+18+18+19): Llull (7), Rudy (8), Suárez (9), Mirotic (21) and Slaugther (6) –first five- Pocius (0), Draper (8), Reyes (5), S. Rodríguez (10), Begic (4) and Hernangómez (0).
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