Real Madrid saves a ‘match ball’ against Asvel to stay alive in the Euroleague

Real Madrid used its agonistic capacity to stay in the running in the Euroleague. Laso’s team beat French Asvel (71-74) in a match worth match ball which was an ode to suffering. The vigor of Garuba, the character of Abalde and the class of Thompkins rescued a key victory for the Madridistas in Villeurbane. In the remaining three days, against Efes, Olympiacos and Fenerbahçe, they will need at least one more victory to have a ticket among the eight best in the competition.

In another game on Madrid’s edge, Asvel missed two 3-pointers to force extra time and, finally, the heartbreak ended in relief for Laso’s survivors. The Madrid coach prepared an asymmetrical quintet and a defense in the zone to face the crucial appointment at the Astroballe. With Laprovittola, Taylor, Garuba acting as three, and Thompkins and Tavares as an indoor couple, Madrid raised a muscular and dynamic staging to shake up one of the most physical teams in the competition. But the plan did not work. The Asvel, with Cole and Lighty in front, did not shy away from the exchange of blows in the first round and improved the pitch of its rival. The French team fio their impulse to the success from the perimeter and, with a 5 of 7 in starting triples, they took command on the scoreboard (23-20, m. 10). The slight dominance in the rebound hid the seams of the Madrid team, weighed again by the losses of the ball (nine in the first half) and the blur against the French ring.

The fluidity of Madrid was ephemeral and became a deep thicket. Alocen, who arrived at the game touched, did not find the necessary sense to redirect the situation, the speed turned into precipitation and the shot of three began to obsess Laso’s team (1 of 7 in that section; 3 of 11 at halftime) . By then, Madrid’s percentages were a calamity. From 16-20 to 28-22, Madrid spent six minutes of play subsisting on just two free throws from Tyus. Abalde assumed the direction and, in his step forward, he also broke the sequence with a triple that breathed oxygen into his team. But the visiting argument fell very short (12 points in the second quarter) against an Asvel that was adding pieces to his gear. Between Diot and Yabusele they raised the French income: 33-25 first; 37-30 on the brink of rest. Even so, for Madrid the sensations were worse than the scoreboard.

A couple of triples in the resumption, by Laprovittola and Garuba, mitigated Madrid’s anxiety while waiting for solutions. These arrived soon, with the energy of Garuba himself and the aim of Carroll. The youth squad tightened the defense and the Wyoming guard unleashed the attack. Madrid’s forceful reaction turned into a 7-18 partial that changed the air to the match (44-50, m. 26). The influence of Laprovittola grew and Deck joined the quartermaster of points. But Tavares’ fourth foul came 12 minutes from the end and Madrid could barely shore up their rearmament before facing the final stretch (51-56, m. 30).

The third act closed with a 14-24 for Laso’s team. But the Asvel gritted his teeth, trusted Cole’s punch and stretched the fight (61-58, m. 34). Clinging back to its defense, with the outbursts of Deck and Abalde as a resource, Madrid then sharpened its spirit of survival. Abalde’s third triple in three attempts gave enough margin to break the intrigue and save the match ball for the whole of Laso. With little shine, but with a lot of defense. The last seconds were a carousel of free throws and, in the last action, Asvel had up to two triples, from Cole and Kahudi, to force extra time, but Madrid came out alive from Villeurbanne.

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