Real Madrid will play the ACB League final for the ninth time in Laso’s 10 seasons on the bench. The whites surrendered to Valencia Basket in an agonizing match thanks to the dominance of Garuba (16 points and 14 rebounds) and Tavares and the bravery of Llull, and will face the winner of the third game between Barça and Tenerife in the final for the title.
Madrid’s triumph was Laso’s 596th in 772 games, making him the coach with the most wins in the club’s history ahead of Lolo Sainz (595 in 734 games). Since the departure of Pablo Laso player from Madrid in 1997, until his second arrival at the club, as a coach, in June 2011, the Whites only played four league finals in 14 years. This will be the ninth in his decade on the bench, the 28th in total out of 38 possible. One of the most suffered by the physical problems of his team and by the resistance of a powerful Valencia, who proudly stretched the fight, but missed some more Kalinic.
The final for being in the final became a claustrophobic duel from the beginning, gusty and disputed, but always with Madrid one step ahead. Causeur (eight points and two triples in the first six minutes) and Garuba (seven points, four rebounds and two steals in that stretch) drove the Whites out, and Van Rossom looked for solutions for Valencia. The good staging of the premises (17-10) was altered by another setback. A bad stretch left Alocen touched by the abductor and caused the early departure to the track of Llull, rescued from the medical part on the horn. But a distant triple from Llull himself allowed Laso’s team to maintain dominance on the scoreboard after a burst from Prepelic that had re-engaged the taronja team (22-18, m. 10).
Tavares was gripped by the Valencian defense and Madrid defended themselves in the second quarter with Rudy’s points and the episodic appearance of Poirier, rowing with solvency despite carrying two early fouls. Meanwhile, Valencia completed its rearmament with the cement of Kalinic and Tobey. The revolutions rose, the figures fell and the experience and physical reserves began to count. Carroll took a step forward, beating Vives, but between Prepelic and Dubljevic they managed to balance the pulse (39-39). The little difference in favor of the whites at halftime was marked by Garuba with a triple from the corner of the court (42-39, m. 20). By then, the record of the Madrid youth squad, with 10 points and seven rebounds in the first half, was the highlight of Laso’s team against a more union rival but less voracious.
In the resumption, Madrid resisted first and accelerated later. Tavares strengthened Garuba’s dominance in the paint and, making money from the offensive rebound, the whites stretched their income. With a 12-4 run, Laso’s men went from 47-46 to 59-50 before entering the home straight. Valencia was obfuscated from the perimeter, with a one of five in triples in that section, until a Sastre bingo arrived that was balsamic for his team. Hermannsson and Tobey shortened the disadvantage and returned the pressure to the scoreboard (59-57, m. 31).
However, before Valencia completed its reengagement, Madrid breathed with a triple from Taylor and two more from Llull. In an ownerless systole and diastole, it was Kalinic who took it upon himself to settle scores again. From 68-59 to 68-67 with five minutes to go. But neither on that occasion Ponsarnau’s men completed the comeback, always near and far at the same time. With Alocén and Llull alternating command and Tavares and Garuba huge in the rebound, the whites saw the light and sealed the pass to the final. The 28th of 38 possible in the Laso era, the most successful coach in the club’s history.