A match to remember

We got tired of repeating in the run-up to this fifth and final match between Real Madrid and Partizan Belgrade that we were facing a result never seen before. That 0-2 with which Madrid started at home was diabolic. It was also devilish to have to win the fifth away. The two teams were going to break a barrier. It was the whites, after another comeback of those that take away the hiccups, who took the epic that their shield paints for a walk to obtain yet another historic victory. Not another, another one. They came to see 41-59 in the third quarter, -18; but it is that his -16 of the rest (or rather, having recovered from it) supposes something not seen before: Real Madrid had never overcome such a challenge playing the Euroleague.

The spirit of the previous day at the Santiago Bernabéu, trying one on one against Manchester City to get into a new Champions League final, moved to a bursting WiZink Center. Carlo Ancelotti summed up the club’s feelings at the end of this meeting: “Football or basketball doesn’t matter: Real Madrid never gives up”.

Forty minutes of ecstasy leading up to another Clásico in the semifinals. It begins to be a habit in the same way in which this Madrid does not stop fighting, whatever the set of adversities it navigates. The loss of Poirier, injured in a calf, did not give way to Cornelie, who does not count for Mateo. Ndiaye, starter, was the novelty of a reinforced Chus Mateo in his confrontation against Zeljko Obradovic. Those who gave him up for dead, as with the team itself, were wrong. Tavares, the healthy center (because Yabusele was still suspended), charged himself with fouls and ended up resisting his impulses to be one of those who tore Partizán apart.

Anyone who has lived through this stage from the start, that of Pablo Laso and the one that Chus Mateo now leads from the bench, knows what is going on there. Until they are killed, there is life. Luka Doncic, who followed the match from a distance, gave due credit to the three members of the old guard who revolutionized the match. Rudy Fernández, Sergio Llull and ‘El Chacho’ Sergio Rodríguez, at 109 years of age between the three, put an extra lung each so that Madrid could breathe when he approached clinical death. Rudy, dark work, lethal without scoring, a true hallmark on another day that is remembered. The canary went up to 19 goals in a renaissance fruit of his countless talent. Llull scored all of his points, eight, in the last quarter, and thus summed up his feelings when he finished at the microphone of DAZN: “It is the DNA that we have had for many years. Competing until the end, not giving up any game for lost ”. Because the years go by, the players go by, and the style has permeated so much that, around an old guard that refuses to leave, these games are a common denominator of a unique cycle in basketball.

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In Madrid, the most beautiful memory is worth

The disappointment of the first two matches of the tie, which were the ones that had been played at the renowned Palacio de los Deportes, made this a strange night. With the comeback gene embedded in their brains, yes, but without escaping that disappointment with which Madrid had left the Spanish capital to save the ballot in (im) penetrable Belgrade. The fight and its sanctions, together with the heartbreaking injury to Gabriel Deck at the Stark Arena and the return of Kevin Punter for this decisive match, were the handbrake to not get carried away by euphoria.

Vinícius, the Hernangómez brothers and other illustrious were part of the 12,867 souls that the Euroleague counted in the Plaza de Felipe II venue. Fans of the merengue club, devoted or not to basketball, were not going to miss such a train wreck. Because Partizan was, he has finished the course like a propelled howitzer with enormous force and deserves to be included among the greats of this season. But Madrid there is only one.

Just as those two games won by Obradovic’s team on Spanish soil were in the subconscious, you looked at Barça and saw a reflection. Not the one in the semifinals, which will be another story, but the one in the regular phase match that both had in that same location. There Chus’ men also had to go from very little to a lot, from less to everything, to beat their eternal rival by five points and after going through the rack of extra time. Another one of those nights. And a two-way street: they hope to achieve the same result when the two meet again in Kaunas.

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Honors to Chus Mateo. Not only because of what was previously discussed with Ndiaye, a piece used to wear down rivals and make life easier for Tavares. The coach raised several exchange defenses that threw the Serbs off balance in the second half, and that and the confidence in his regulars gave him reasons to also be recognized as an MVP in this feat.

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One of those who best defined what happened this Wednesday was Mario Hezonja. Another that, not having his best night, came out at the end to mark territory. What was that? “Real Madrid. It has always been like this”. Words are so simple and so difficult to achieve such a status… “We have fought like lions. We went to a field where it is almost impossible to win, we fought, we had a lot of casualties (I don’t know who was playing or who wasn’t), we won both games. And today we got a victory for history”. One more. One more. Another one that will always be remembered.

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