The Real Madrid rescued a suffered victory in St. Petersburg to maintain position in the tight sprint for entering the playoff of the most even Euroleague in history. Those of Laso defeated the Zenith hugging their giant Tavares (16 points and 9 rebounds) and squeezing their threshold of agony. In a long-suffering and hard-working match, the whites let 14 income points escape and entered the outcome with a disadvantage of six, but they knew how to maintain their mettle and pulse to come back and save the game. match point. Pangos first and Baron and Ponitka later put Madrid on the ledge, but Tavares, well supported by Deck and Taylor, grabbed the Whites into the game and into the competition.
Concentration, competitive tension, was the great unfinished business for the Whites, who accumulated 22 turnovers in the victory against Zalgiris and 23 in the defeat against Khimki. “Our first half has been horrible, unacceptable. We have not played anything, neither offensively nor defensively. With 23 losses it would have been a miracle to win, “Laso summed up in his crude self-criticism after the match in Moscow. And, in Saint Petersburg, Madrid came out determined to implement the amendment proposal. With Taylor acting as blotter for Pangos and Deck assuming gallons in attack, the Madridistas improved Zenit’s reaction speed and seized the initiative quickly (8-18, m. 6).
In the middle of the final sprint of the regular phase, six teams, from third to eighth in the standings, started the day separated by a victory. And the duel between fifth and seventh acquired a strategic importance. Zenit, who had lost four of their six previous games, showed the same misalignments that led them to be shaken by Valencia a week ago. Tavares took advantage of Pascual’s team hole in the paint and the constant supply of balls and grew (with 10 points and six rebounds) until 13-24 with which the first quarter closed. But there was a lot of late ahead.
The fluidity in attack and the application in defense allowed Madrid to dominate the rhythm of the game. Thompkins joined the rotation and stretched the rope a little more with a triple (15-29, m. 12). By then, Zenit was just Pangos, but Pangos was a lot. “It’s his lighthouse,” Laso warned the day before. And, despite special vigilance, the Canadian guard killed himself to support his team in the first half. He scored 14 points (with 4 of 4 in triples; compared to 1 of 11 of the rest of his teammates), distributed two assists and allowed Pascual’s men to win the second set (16-14) with a triple that was psychological (29- 38, m. 20). Madrid’s challenge was continuity, Zenit’s, reaction. And the reading of Pascual’s booklet in the booth triumphed.
In the resumption, five points from Poythress, a basket from Hollins and the accumulation of fouls by Taylor, Tavares and Garuba, dismantled Madrid’s advantage and good feelings with a stroke of the pen (38-38, m. 22). A 23-9 run in just 10 minutes returned the Whites to the room of anguish. The fouls weakened Laso’s inner game and the Poythress-Thomas pair began to make their way against an opponent who could not find clear scoring routes. Tavares’ fourth staff, 1m 49s to the end of the third quarter, and Baron’s scoring effervescence in that stretch underscored Madrid’s problems (58-52, m. 30). The visitors’ blanket fell short. What Carroll covered in attack, Tyus laid bare behind. And Tavares returned to the track to remedy it, forming a couple with Garuba, both with four fouls and six minutes ahead to hold. They did it with note, especially the Cape Verdean. Deck propped up the agony and Laprovittola put his team one up at 1m 45s (69-70). From there until the end, Tavares expanded again to rescue Madrid from the cold.