Bilbao Basket stalks the Cup

Bilbao Basket has seven victories in the bag, in 12 days. A fabulous booty for a team that saw its emblem as player-coach (Mumbrú) come out in the summer and whose franchise man, Goudelock, and his captain Rigo, the soul of the locker room, dropped due to injury. He opened the film course and, without having reached Christmas, he already has a lot of ground of permanence covered. But he begins to fall short of that goal of maintaining the category. Right now, with five games to play, there is a unique opportunity to fight for the Cup. With two or three you can get the ticket to Badalona. The ambition is maximum and after so much effort, it is not a question of conforming or letting go. At the Nou Congost, Ponsarnau’s team offered an exercise in solidity, at times authoritative, a blow to the table after the bitterness against Obradoiro. The defeat against the people of Santiago is submerged in oblivion after a European beating during the week against Bahçesehir and a radiant night at the Nou Const. Betis and Manresa go hand in hand. The former lost his horse against Breogán and moments later, the Bages team, which not even the signings bring out of lethargy, found itself powerless against another medium-low profile enemy: fourth defeat in a row. Marc Gasol’s Girona is out there, in the field of candidates for drama.

For the ‘men in black’, the return to the League on the 27th against Real Madrid will be key. Big words, although the faith of this group is infinite, after the scourge of misfortune with injuries. Playing for such a beautiful goal, without the stress that surrounds those who have only two wins, is pure delight in Miribilla. Third away win after Badalona and Zaragoza. Surne was relentless, a group with a lot of scoring in the first half, a great defense against the threatening transition from Manresa (they barely joined the counterattack in the clash), a better rebound and Smith’s leadership. He was much more precise in the decisive moments. He held up well to the onslaught of Pedro Martínez’s team, with some gaps, yes, when it came to finding points. The committed moment came at 5:54 to finish: a 68-72, after a basket of two from Harding. But he did not falter, he never saw himself behind on the scoreboard, and he showed an insurmountable mentality. It is not a team that walks around the court, it wins the games with a lot of sacrifice. And it is becoming more and more reliable. Withey’s last rotation and a Sule who is rediscovering his game was important to finish dismantling the opponent.

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76 – Baxi Manresa (22+16+26+12): Waczynski (9), Harding (13), Vaulet (6), Martinas Geben (6), Dani Pérez (6) -starting five-, Pérez (8), Ferrari (8), Tass (7), Jou (8), Badio (3) and Steinbergs (2).

86 – Surne Bilbao Basket (24+26+20+16): Hakanson (14), Sulejmanovic (9), Smith (16), Withey (13), Rabaseda (7) -starting five- Reyes (4),
Kyser (7), Radicevic (12), Andersson (-), Alonso (2) and Ubai (2).

Referees: Fernando Calatrava, Esperanza Mendoza and Javier Torres. They eliminated the local player Geben for five fouls.

Incidents: match corresponding to the day of the Endesa League played in the Nou Congost pavilion before 4,000 fans.

Manresa wanted to impose their crazy rhythm from the initial jump. It is a very active team, which constantly puts its hands in defense, the revelation of last year, but at that time there were many more weapons than now. He has improved with Ferrari, but it does not reach him. The Biscayan team had more clairvoyance than a Baxi who was imprecise in passes and basket shots. Vaulet exemplified the local anxiety to come out on top: he put a block and ran the first on the counterattack to score the tie at 28.

The second set started with a constant exchange of baskets. The Manresa team came out more focused and managed to equalize the score. But it was just a mirage and Bilbao Basket fell apart again (31-45, min 18). After the break, the Catalan team started again with a good momentum. But their efforts did not make a noticeable impact on the result against a well-placed Surne side. The soft defense of those from Bages maintained the difference of 10 points (55-65, min 27). A triple on the horn of Tass cut the distance. Hakanson, another great afternoon at the office, took the helm again and the Bilbao team led the game without apparent flagging. Harding was penalized with technique after a warning, for spreading his legs and feigning a foul. People were starting to get impatient. Nerves played against Baxi, a machine to shoot and miss triples. Faced with this burden, the serenity of a team that wants to toast the Cup.

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