Hereda San Pablo Burgos accomplished their first mission in the quarterfinal tie against Movistar Estudiantes (87-92). He won in the opening duel, at the WiZink Center, stealing the home court factor. Now, only need remain undefeated at the Coliseum to travel to the Final Four and being a little closer to returning to the Endesa League just one year after falling to hell. And I say only need Because seen the three games that both have played, it will not be easy at all. It looks, it looks very good that everything that remains, regardless of the number of games they are, will be very even, tachycardic to the extreme. Solved in the last moments.
This Friday was like that. 80-82 with only two minutes to go after a very good performance by Estudiantes, who worked on defensive adjustments and knew how to tickle their attacking rival with a Mark Hughes who was outstanding (22 points, 4 of 10 from three). While Burgos pulled the mace. It was not elegant. Not artistic. He bombarded from the perimeter with an extraordinary 15 of 31 that prevented any leap forward from Madrid. His hero, Khyri Thomas with 20 goals and 5 of 7 from three. Álex López (3 of 3) and Álex Barrera (2 of 3) seconded him wonderfully. And that was, the triple, what put the final +5 in the contest for the Castilians.
When two colossi face each other, two teams with the same needs, a similar potential in attack and huge supporters, it is normal for what happened in the first half of the confrontation between schoolboys and Castilians to happen: equality. maxim. And this was reflected by the 46-43 score at halftime (always with the locals ahead). Of course, each with its roll. The same point can be reached by different paths. The Ramireños came up with the idea of developing their attacks as much as possible through the speed of their exteriors and constantly changing in defense. A dizziness to see the blue players covering gaps behind.
For its part, San Pablo is an offensive machine. If you stop breathing for an instant, you suffocate. Especially from the perimeter. 5 of 10 in the first quarter with Barrera, López and Thomas without a miss. In the second act, 2 of 5. Minimal relegation that, together with Corbalán’s penetrations and Mahalbasic’s tap dance (a superclass with the ball and without the ball) in the area, did not allow his rival to shoot… and they had options , with the 31-24 after a basket by Jawara and a triple by Hughes that made it 42-37. Sean Smith had opportunities to fly by being faster, more vertical than any of his peers. And Leimanis would pull some magical basket out of his hat with Franch giving good minutes of refreshment. The biggest stain in Madrid, his 3 of 8 from the personal.
And when a script is well written, it has its twists, its surprises and its suspense, why change it? Estudiantes and Burgos followed the path marked out in the first 20 minutes after the break: the locals, led by a great Hughes, shot up on the scoreboard with a +9 (57-48), but the visitors were not there to give away the first match ball and used the perimeter for it. Incredible efficiency. Thomas (10 goals in this act) and Barrera led the 5 of 8 that erased the smiles of the college fans. And from so much pressure, the comeback, 68-69 with a good entry from Corbalán before closing the third quarter.
Fear and tension seized the two squads. Almost two minutes without scoring from the start, while the students accumulated very fast fouls. However, the wind changed direction: Burgos gained more confidence, settled down, with the Ramireños making small (but lethal) mistakes,… although the Castilians did not finish off. And Estu took the lead with a triple from Leimanis and a 2+1 from Larsen. Going into the last two minutes, nothing broken: 80-82. And, there, yes, San Pablo killed with two triples, one from Thomas and the other from San Miguel, to leave some people from Madrid on the canvas that they cannot make any more mistakes on Sunday if they want to continue with options to reach the Final Four.