Two game rounds were played in Liga Endesa ACB this week. In the two games, Barcelona kept their winning streak up to 8 games, confirming their good shape.
The Catalans did not only blow out Lucentum Alicante 83-57, but also beat Caja Laboral 97-89 that ended up being one of the most exciting games of the season, with Juan Carlos Navarro playing at his best level: 31 points and 10 assists which meant 54 points generated by him, and Maciej Lampe scoring other 31 for the Basque team.
Real Madrid faced a tougher than expected opposition in its two games against Manresa and Murcia, winning by 3 and 1 point, respectively.
In its home game against Murcia, Pablo Laso’s men wasted a 7 point lead in the last minute, showing that they might need some improvement in their focus for the playoffs. Caja Laboral lost two games in a row, failing also at home against a Joventut that still fights for getting to the eight spot of the playoffs.
Gescrap Bilbao got to the fourth spot, replacing Valencia since the orangemen lost in Sevilla against Banca Cívica, after winning two important games against CAI Zaragoza and in the Basque derby against neighbours Lagun Aro. Álex Mumbrú and Kostas Vasileiadis were key in the win against the team from San Sebastián, whose Andy Panko was the MVP of game 32 with 28 points.
After this weekend, six teams assured their playoff participation: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Caja Laboral, Bilbao, Valencia and Banca Cívica will play in the post-season. The other two spots will be fought for by other six teams; Alicante, Lagun Aro, Cai Zaragoza, Manresa, Joventut and Unicaja. The latter could lose its Euroleague license if they don’t get into they playoffs, something that is already being argued about in crossed statements between Málaga, Valencia and Bilbao.
The struggle for staying
At the bottom of the league table, Blancos de Rueda Valladolid got relegated on game 31, 3 rounds before regular season ended. Their late signings of players like Curtis Borchardt or Darius Songaila weren’t enough to make the team stay in ACB.
After a few weeks since his signing started to be talked about, veteran guard Louis Bullock finally came back to ACB, making his debut with Estudiantes, in the loss against Manresa. Estudiantes still have hope to avoid relegation, since they beat Obradoiro, one of the closest teams in the fight. It is likely that the second relegation spot will be decided in the Estudiantes – Murcia game of game round 34, the final one. The other two squads that still could get relegated are Gran Canaria and Obradoiro.