With one more week of play in 2011, the competition is tighter than ever in Liga Endesa play. With Real Madrid taking care of business at home against Assignia Manresa and Caja Laboral overcoming the visiting FC Barcelona, the Spanish rivals are tied atop the league standings at 10-2. Statistically, Madrid holds the lead with the Liga’s top-scoring offense at 82.67 points per game giving them a 84-point lead on Barça; naturally the Blaugrana are tops in defense, with a stingy 65.33 points allowed per.
In Madrid, Real went on a 13-2 run early to take a 19-8 lead in the first quarter and never looked back on the way to an 83-61 victory over Manresa (now 5-7 and tied for 11th place). Red-hot Nikola Mirotic contributed his Liga Endesa season high with 20 points in just 23 minutes of play.
Meanwhile, Barcelona went to Basque Country only to come away with just their third loss of 2011-12. In what the Liga Endesa’s official website is calling “Baskonia’s best game this season,” Caja Laboral held the haggard-looking Barca to just eight points in the first quarter and Juan Carlos Navarro scoreless for the game: The first time the latter has happened since November 2008.
In fact, Navarro was pulled from the game in the 12th minute. In more bad news for Blaugrana backers, coach Xavi Pascual told media that La Bomba had been suffering from plantar fasciitis problems and that Pascual had considered sitting him out before the game.
Milko Bjelica led the way in Baskonia’s 71-60 win, putting in 17 points on 8-of-11 overall shooting along with four rebounds.
In closing out the calendar year, Barcelona hosts Manresa while Madrid plays at FIATC Mutua Joventut (4-8, tied for 13th) on December 28th and 29th, respectively. The real date to mark on the calendar, however, is January 4th when the league leaders face off in Madrid. Could Barcelona find itself in a rare no. 2 position to start 2012?