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Barcelona-Madrid rivalry moves to the basketball court

February 20, 2019

MADRID (AP) — The rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid goes far beyond the soccer field.

A highly disputed basketball final between the Spanish clubs on Sunday is still sparking controversy days later, with soccer player Gerard Pique becoming the latest to chime in.

Barcelona beat Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final over the weekend. After the basketball league admitted to “serious errors” by the officiating crew in the game, Madrid hinted it would consider pulling out of local competitions and only concentrate on international games.

“All of this talk about the officials is just to try to hide the fact that Barcelona went to Madrid as an underdog and lifted the trophy with merit,” Pique said after the Barcelona soccer team’s 0-0 draw at Lyon on Tuesday in the Champions League.

“It happens all the time ... in basketball, in soccer,” the outspoken Barcelona captain said. “Then they (Real Madrid) are helped by a call and everybody is quiet again. Luckily they don’t have teams in other sports, because otherwise we would also have to deal with this in handball, hockey ... But, anyway, it’s a strategy that they use and we have to get used to it.”

The controversial call came at the end of Barcelona’s 94-93 win in Madrid.

Real Madrid center Anthony Randolph made what appeared to be a legal block to give the hosts the title at the buzzer, but officials reviewed the play and eventually called goaltending against the American player. Replays showed that the ball touched the rim before Randolph got to it, which would have annulled the goaltending call, but apparently the images shown to the officiating crew did not make that clear.

The changed call moved Barcelona from one point behind to one point ahead, giving the Catalan club the title.

“Real Madrid, of course, understands that human errors can happen in any sport but the club demands a clear response about what happened in a play that was reviewed by a three-man refereeing team on the instant replay and whose decision surprisingly goes against what is laid down in the regulations,” Real Madrid said in a statement. “Real Madrid will continue to study the measures and course of action to adopt in view of the extremely serious nature of the events.”

Real Madrid is a European powerhouse in basketball, winning two of the last four EuroLeague titles. Luka Doncic left Real Madrid last year to join the Dallas Mavericks as the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA draft.

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