Navarro knows: 10th finals matchup of Real vs. Barca

With just hours to go before the Liga Endesa championship series pitting FC Barcelona against Real Madrid in what they just had to call “El Clásico,” Spain-based Blog de Basket today takes a look at some of the great matchups for all the Spanish marbles these two have had over the years; the 2012 confrontation will mark the 10th between the two with Barca holding the slight 5-4 advantage.

Extrapolation from the Blog piece – plus lots of YouTubes, natch – follow.

These battles started in 1984, in a series ending in forfeit. After Barcelona’s Mike Davis tangled with Real’s Juanma Iturriaga and Fernando Martin resulting in an on-court altercation, league officials handed out suspensions. Iturriaga was given a reprimand only, while Davis, arguably the victim in the scuffle, received the longest suspension. Barca players were a no-show for game three in protest.

In 1986, Los Blancos took a second title over the Blaugrana; 1988 saw Barcelona get revenge in eking out the 3-2 series win.

This championship took on a different complexion in 1989, when Drazen Petrovic suited up for Real in his sole season in Spain. Petrovic managed to lead Madrid to the Copa del Rey title and the European Club Winners’ Cup but Barcelona still overcame in Spain, three games to two, in what would be the third of the team’s four consecutive ACB championships under Aíto García Reneses.

Unfortunately, the feat was marred by some controversial officiating in game five. Some 42 fouls were called against Madrid, while Barcelona was whistled for just 17. Real literally finished the deciding match with four players on the court.

In 1997, the side without home-team advantage won a Madrid-Barcelona championship series: Reneses was again at the helm for the Blaugrana and Roberto Dueñas was named series MVP. Madrid returned the favor, winning game five away in 2000 behind Saša Đorđević, who’d played with Barcelona the previous season.

The 2000-01 season became known as the breakout year for Pau Gasol, which continued in Barcelona’s three-game sweep after Real and ultimately into a Memphis Grizzlies draft selection. Also along for the championship ride: The just-turned-21 Juan Carlos Navarro.

Finally, 2007 saw Real Madrid return to ACB titledom by topping their rivals behind Finals MVP Felipe Reyes.

Now, realistically, as Blog de Basket points, out, the record no longer matters. “The vast majority of players in this final have not been in the above series. Who will be the destabilizing factor in the series? Will we see the Real Madrid of the Copa del Rey? Will we see a Barcelona with extra motivation after the Copa defeat? The only certainty is that we’ll enjoy a spectacle worthy of the best basketball.”

The Liga Endesa championship series tips off tonight at 8.45pm CET (2.45pm EST).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,