Copa Del Rey round up (day 3)

TalkBasket continues the live coverage of the Copa Del Rey from Malaga, as the competition enters its final stages. Last night the two finalists of the tournament became known. You can read exactly how.

Real Madrid 98-66 Zaragoza

Pre tournament favourites Real Madrid sealed their final spot with a highly efficient and convincing 98-66 victory over a plucky yet over-matched CAI Zaragoza team. It was yet another superb defensive game for Real, as they forced 22 turnovers from a sloppy Zaragoza, with 17 of those being steals leading to a textbook demonstration of transition offence.

The first quarter began evenly, with Giorgi Shermadini sealing Ioannis Bourousis on the left block to receive a Michael Roll pass for a simple hook shot over his left shoulder. Bourousis made amends the next play down the floor however, setting a screen that for Rudy Fernandez to curl around and knock down a three from a Sergio Llull pass. But Bourousis continued to struggle to contain the massive Georgian centre, as Shermadini was again found by Michael Roll to score another inside basket, before a Roll-Shermadini pick and roll forced a switch of Bourousis onto the American guard who promptly sunk a pull up mid range jumper. The game remained even towards the end of the first as Shermadini started to use his size advantage against Marcus Slaughter, with Bourousis on the bench with two early fouls. Shermadini drew a foul on Slaughter and went to the line to pull Zaragoza within one with 2.06 minutes remaining, after a Madrid run. With Zaragoza in the penalty they had some ill disciplined fouls to allow Real to push their lead out to end the first first with Jonathan Tabu fouling Jaycee Carroll and then Jon Stefansson fouling Felipe Reyes as he fought through a screen. Real led by 20-15 with 3.7 seconds left in the quarter, which was just enough time for Rudy Fernandez to drive down the lane and float a buzzer beating two in to push the Real lead to 7.

The second quarter was where Real started to really pull away, with the inimitable Sergio Rodriguez pulling the reins of the Madrid offence. Chacho found a rolling Marcus Slaughter for an alley oop then drew Pedro Llompart into an unsportsmanlike foul following a sloppy turnover. After Serrod leaked out on the fast break for a layup following a Shermadini turnover Zaragoza found themselves having to call a timeout with 5.55 to try and cut the ever expanding Real lead, which sat at 16 points. It did little to stop their rot, as Jaycee Carroll nailed a three out of the timeout. Real kept going to the talismanic Rodriguez to push the lead out further as he fed Reyes for a dunk after a pick and roll, before knocking down a series of mid range jumpshots from on ball screens, toying with both his defender and the hedging Shermadini. Before Zaragoza could adjust the lead was 24 points with Salah Mejri coming in to dunk home a Chacho lob pass and slip a slick high-low pass to Nikola Mirotic for a layup. Jon Stefansson hit a three and Giorgi Shermadini a pair of free throws to bring the lead below 20 and Shermadini converted a layup from a Pedro Llompart pass to end the half 54-37.

It was quite clear that Zaragoza needed to pick up their intensity on both ends of the court, and avoid sloppy turnovers to stand any chance of making the result respectable, let alone stand a chance of winning the game. It seemed like they had the perfect start to the half as with the shot clock running down, Dontaye Draper unwittingly intercepted a pass intended for his teammate Sergio Llull, realising his mistake he fired a pass back to Llull with 1 second on the shot clock; Llull manged to flick the ball out as the buzzer sounded, and saw it drop through the rim perfectly, dropping Zaragoza heads in the process. Real kept up the defensive pressure with Llull and Draper in the back court and kept forcing Zaragoza into silly turnovers and scoring in transition. With a timeout taken at 2.53 remaning Real had a 70-44 lead and traded baskets in the final three minutes to lead 77-50 with ten minutes left in the game.

With Madrid comfortably ahead the fourth quarter was a tepid affair with both teams accepting the result and running their bench and by the time the first timeout was called mid way through the quarter Madrid’s lead had stayed steady at 86-58, and there was little change to end the quarter as a few missed shots to end the quarter kept Madrid from topping 100 points, the game finished at 98-66.

Madrid’s active hands and aggressive help were again the story of the game, Zaragoza’s guards were hassled all game and coughed up the ball an extraordinary amount of times on errant passes to Madrid’s long defenders as well as by over dribbling and being stripped. Madrid did a very poor job covering Giorgi Shermadini, as he found it easy to draw fouls on both Marcus Slaughter and Ioannis Bourousis. Zaragoza used pick and roll to set him up and gain post position, which be a problem against a pick and roll heavy Barca team in the final.

Barcelona 89-81 Valencia

Barcelona sealed their spot in the Copa del Rey final behind the largest first quarter lead in Copa del Rey history. Valencia struggled to get their bigs involved in the game as JJ Triguero, Bojan Dubljevic and Justin Doellman couldn’t make an impact offensively.

Barcelona were hot right from the opening tip, as Juan Carlos Navarro curled off an Ante Tomic screen to drain a catch and shoot three from a Marcelinho Huertas assist; on the next offensive possession Navarro again curled off a screen this time from Erazem Lorbek and again received a Huertas to catch and shoot for another three. Two possessions later Navarro came off a Tomic screen to again catch and shoot this time with Papanikolaou assisting. Already down 9 with just 2.48 gone in the first quarter coach Perasivic was forced to call a timeout, and to take Rafa Martinez, who couldn’t chase Navarro around the screens, out of the game for Pau Ribas. Valencia’s offence picked up immediately with Ribas making a floater after a Doellman pick and then finding JJ Triguero off a baseline drive for a lay in. But the poor defence continued to stick for Valencia with Romain Sato fouling Ante Tomic on a layup and Kostas Papanikolaou hit two consecutive coast to coast buckets before a wide open corner three pushed it to 19-4. Bostjan Nachbar came in with under two minutes left and sunk the shot of the quarter, with two seconds left in the shot clock Boki caught the ball in the right corner turned and shot and sank a three pointer that made the lead 29-9 and Barca capped their historic quarter with Jacob Pullen finding Joey Dorsey for a dunk.

Valencia jumped into life in the second quarter as they attempted to close the 21 point gap. Lubos Barton and Rafa Martinez both knocked down corner threes to open the quarter and with Romain Sato hitting a turnaround jumpshot with under four minutes to go Valencia had cut the lead to 41-24 and the lead was slimmed slightly to 15 to end the quarter with the score standing at 48-33.

Sensing the game slipping away from them Valencia came out pressing Barcelona after every inbound, but the press was largely ineffective, as Barcelona found it easily broken. Baskets were traded early on with Kostas Papanikolaou and Sam Van Rossum providing the impetus for their teams. Barcelona began to step up their defensive effort again, with Kostas Papnikolaou chasing down Justin Doellman to block the American at the rim. On the next defensive possession Ante Tomic stuck out a long arm to block a lacklustre Bojan Dubljevic baby hook, before beating the Montenegrin down the court to finish a layup in secondary transition. With Tomic finishing a Papanikolaou pass with a dunk Valencia took a timeout with 5.25 left in the quarter and trailing 57-41. It did little to bring them back however, as the score for the rest of the quarter was 7-7 after Jacob Pullen knocked down a pull up three pointer as time expired.

Pullen stayed in to start the fourth quarter and started to hit the kind of shots that Oliver Lafayette hit to win the game for Valencia last weekend against Barca, he hit pull up mid range shots, and demonstrated his chemistry with fellow American Joey Dorsey by finding the centre on a lob for a layup for the second time in the game. Valencia began to show what gave them the top offensive rating in the ACB in the fourth however, as Sato, Van Rossum, Lafayette, Ribas and Martinez kicked into life. Their run at one point saw them come within six points of Barca, but the tendency to commit mental errors persisted for Valencia, as silly fouls away from the ball and the basket and turnovers blighted their fourth quarter and killed their momentum. This allowed Barca to control the game while Valencia were in the penalty, shooting 10/13 from the free throw line in the quarter.

Barca put in a terrific all round display through the first three quarter and seemed happy to simply control the game in the fourth and coast to a win. They caused issues in all areas offensively for Valencia, with a dominant shooting performance outside being complimented by some adept finishing from Tomic, Lorbek and Dorsey. Valencia have to be disappointed with the performance of their frontline, with Doellman and Dubljevic displaying none of the superb play from the ACB season, perhaps they were carrying injuries from a tough game against Baskonia, but coach Perasivic cannot be pleased with his teams performance.