As soon as Sergio Rodriguez came off the bench, Real Madrid were unstoppable.
The newly crowned Euroleague MVP led all scorers with 21 points as Real Madrid booked their place in Sunday’s Finale against Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv with a comfortable 100-62 win over Barcelona in the Milan ‘el Clasico on Friday night.
“Everything went very well,” Rodriguez explained. “We were very focused and intense. We played one of those great games we have already played during this season. It’s unbelievable to win a Final Four game like that, against such a great team like Barcelona.”
An 11-0 run in the second period was enough to not only give Real Madrid the lead, but give them the lead for good as Real led by double digits for the majority of the second quarter, before being pegged back to eight, then extended their cushion to 25 points after three periods of play at 73-48.
Madrid were different class. Barcelona simply didn’t arrive.
“I think we played a very good game., Madrid coach Pablo Laso said. ”We started a bit slow and had problems with the defensive rebounds and that didn’t let us control the level of the game.
“Once we increased the defensive pressure, we were able to control the tempo. We improved a lot offensively, moving the ball. I am happy to have won beating a great team like Barcelona. But we also worked very hard to get here. We are talking about sports, and you know that you can have good and bad days. But the growth of our team is based on our daily efforts.”
“Nobody expected us to win by so many points because Barcelona is a good team,” Real’s Ioannis Bourousis added. “For us, it doesn’t matter if we won by 38 or by 1 point. What matters is to play with heart and show everybody that we are a strong team.”
Nikola Mirotic added 19 points for the Liga Endesa front-runners. Rudy Fernandez quietly hit 12.
Ante Tomic amassed 16 points to lead Barcelona, who will play CSKA Moscow for the second straight Final Four in the quickly forgotten third and fourth place game.
“We trained for months to get to this point,” Barca coach Xavi Pascual said. “The team was very well prepared. We felt like we were in good shape. We got so far away from our opponents and there was no way to get back.”
Marcelinho Huertas inspired Barcelona to a 10-4 lead as Real Madrid were sluggish in the opening possessions, but as the first ten minutes neared its end, Real Madrid got going. They took the lead at 19-18 thanks to a triple from Rodriguez, but Barcelona pegged them back to end the first exchanges at 20-20.
Fan favourite Felipe Reyes connected to open the second quarter and that began an 11-0 tear that put the game beyond any doubt. Real Madrid looked relaxed. Barcelona failed to execute when they needed to and despite a strong finish, culminating in a three from Barca’s Brad Oleson, the Catalan side trailed 45-37 at the half.
Real though hit another gear in the third. Their lead gradually grew as Barcelona ran out of offensive sets in a desperate attempt to stifle their rivals’ defensive intensity. Seven points in a matter of minutes from Rodriguez put his side up 68-47 and the chants of “MVP” reigned from the noisy Real Madrid supporters section in the upper decks of the Mediolanum Forum.
The lead only increased in the fourth quarter, as both teams winded the time down. Frustration boiled over with Barcelona’s Joey Dorsey earning himself a technical for throwing the ball at an official over an out of bounds play that went against him.
It was a huge contrast to the drama witnessed in the first game. The more anticipated of the two clashes turned out to be a blowout.