|10 April 2012|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|A panoramic view of Buesa Arena in Vitoria-Gasteiz during the Caja Laboral vs. Real Madrid game on Monday night (Photo courtesy of ACB/L. González)|
The final stage of renovation works at the Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, concluded only last week.
The increase of its seating capacity from 9,323 to 15,504 spectators could hardly have come at a better time.
Crowds at Caja Laboral Baskonia home games have always been large, as the Basque city lives and breathes basketball.
On Monday night though, in the newly-renovated arena, a Spanish top-flight record 15,504 spectators saw Caja Laboral beat Real Madrid, 67-66.
The previous attendance mark had been set in the 2006-07 season when Bilbao Basket hosted Baskonia (then called Tau Ceramica) and 15,414 fans watched.
There have been several games over the past couple of decades when more than 15,000 packed arenas in Spain.
There were 15,200 fans to attend play-off clashes between Estudiantes and Barcelona in the 2004 ACB Finals, and Estudiantes and Real Madrid in that year's Quarter-Finals.
A crowd of 15,350 saw Estu take on Barca in another game of the 2004 ACB Finals.
In the '91 post-season, Barca and Estu squared off one game of the ACB Semi-Finals before 15,104 fans.
That same year, Barca took on Joventut in a couple of games during the Finals in which 15,064 and 15,101 watched.
Monday night's game at the Fernando Buesa Arena was a memorable occasion for Baskonia.
The fans saw their team win a thriller, with Real Madrid's Spain international Sergio Llull getting open and catching an alley-oop pass right beside the basket with 0.8 seconds left, only to miss the shot.
Baskonia (20-8) now trail second-place Real Madrid (21-7) by just one game in the Liga Endesa standings, with Barcelona (23-5) in first.