Real Madrid reclaimed the Spanish League title from defending champion FC Barcelona on Sunday with an 81-74 home victory that sealed a 3-1 decision in their best-of-five final series.
It was the 36th national title for Real since 1957, but it’s the first of this decade and came with Chus Mateo on the bench after head coach Pablo Laso suffered a heart attack before the series but was well enough to celebrate with his team on Sunday. Real held the upper hand early but could not escape Barca until a 12-3 fourth-quarter run provided the cushion needed to prevail. Walter Tavares ruled Game 4 for Real with 25 points and 13 rebounds, including seven on the offensive glass. Fabien Causeur followed with 17 points, including 6 in the next-to-last minute that sealed the deal. Barca got 14 points from Nikola Mirotic, 13 from Dante Exum, and 12 from Nick Calathes.
Real Madrid got the best of a defensive-minded first quarter by going inside to Tavares, who scored 8 points as the hosts led 13-10 after 10 minutes. Barca turned things around from the three-point line in the second quarter, hitting 5 of 8 shots there as Exum’s second triple, 14 seconds before the half, pulled the visitors within 34-33. Barca kept it close until Guerschon Yabusele and Tavares both dunked for a 44-37 advantage midway through the third quarter. Triples by Kyle Kuric and Mirotic gave Barca hope, but the next dunk by Tavares kept Real in charge, 50-43. A late 0-8 run suddenly put the visitors up before free throws by Vincent Poirier left a 57-56 score for Real after 30 minutes. Calathes flipped the scoreboard with the first basket of the fourth quarter, but Adam Hanga answered with a long-range strike at 60-58. Tavares converted a three-point play next and soon finished another to make it 72-63 with 3:11 to play. Exum and Calathes kept Real close, but Causeur answered with 6 points in 45 seconds to make it 79-70 with 1:16 to play. Brandon Davies dunked, and Cory Higgins downed free throws for Barca to draw within 79-74 with 24 seconds left, but Real beat full-court pressure for a dunk by Gabriel Deck that ultimately proved too much for the visitors to overcome.