Madrid ends the year at the top

Before going out to Miribilla, where every day flames come down from that hell that is projected from the stands, Real Madrid learned that Baskonia had won in Lugo and was knocking on the door of the co-leaderate. It was time to show the stripes in a very hot environment, in front of 10,000 throats screaming at the top of their lungs. Another litmus test for a team accustomed to passing revalidations. Mateo adds more weapons for the next challenges. Rudy, for example, so poignant that no one would say that he was so absent from the ACB. And Deck, definitive in the final quarter. Llull did not miss a second in the final quarter. Three ‘classics’ for the sixth consecutive victory, a good series after derailing in Zaragoza. They weren’t brilliant, they lost 17 balls and left a lot of free kicks, but with victories like this, showing great capacity for suffering, they also win leagues, or regular phases. Now it’s time to think about Baskonia, which is looming in the Euroleague in two days. There is a very long team and the Classic is also coming.

“We are not fighting to be first in the middle of the competition, but at the end, the path we are following is not bad, there have been many mistakes, but the important thing is not to lose the objective”, smiled Chus Mateo, that ends this complicated 2022 seeing everyone in the rearview mirror. No one is going to be able to reach their 11 wins and, according to results, they can certify the Cup. Matches like Miribilla’s make them grow. Bilbao Basket is a few meters away from the KO tournament. Madrid put four men to wear down Hakanson, one of the great stars of the League, and the Swedish genius ended up without gasoline. There were many ups and downs on both sides, but the match was beautiful, to be enjoyed several times. In a very even finish, the Whites, encouraged for 40 minutes by a gigantic Tavares, found the exact inspiration to take the fray against some very confident players at home.

Rudy is back. He had an appetizer against Asvel Villeurbanne, in which he only shot three times to the basket in almost 17 minutes and did not score any. A guy of his age and those physical ailments that he has been enduring for years would have to be given a respectable period of time to pick up the right pace, but he doesn’t need those takeoff tracks. The first ball he touched went to the pot, triple from the side. Shortly after he hammered again, in a counterattack after a local loss. Llull joined the party in a kind of return to the past, introducing a ‘mandarin’ of those that are part of his life routine, at the end of the third act. But ‘Incredible’ had a hard time tying up Hakanson, who had the order to attack and show how slow he was in some lateral movements. Deck also returned after his short absence in ACB, and the last quarter, post by post, was divine.

Madrid began dominating with their physical superiority and tyrannical control of the rebound. Tavares committed the second foul at nine minutes and broke the white armor a bit. The ‘men in black’ were very solid packing with their defense many things that Mateo’s boys raised. Smith put the Basques ahead at 2:42 to close the first quarter: 14-13, but Madrid took the hint and launched towards a 16-29. There was a lot of use of hands, hardness under the hoop, and in those fights the locals came out losing. They were like black and white, never better said. When Radicevic came out onto the court, Madrid were able to close down more in defense and throw in assists, since they didn’t have to watch Hakanson’s shotgun. So it went to 16-29. Hezonja squeezed the Swede for a while, wearing him down as he raised the ball… a big player, with physical explosiveness, against the Nordic magic. Deck also joined the marathon that Ludde endured. And initially, Williams-Goss. The fouls fell mostly on the local side: 10-5 at halftime, and a tie at 42 points in the light, with a statistic for the Nordic helm of 4 of 4 on shots from two and 3 of 4 on triples. Stellar. And it was still starting: “We have to help the greats to close the rebound.” Yes, and the electricians to watch the bulbs!

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After the break, the merengue team came out more in defense over the rival perimeter. Muse took the reins, although Madrid left many points in the errors in the free kick. Bilbao Basket missed two chances to take the lead at 53-54, but did not give up. Smith tied at 56 and the daring Ubal made it 58-56 against Tavares at 1:09 to conclude the third act. It would have been a beautiful climax to that room, but Llull had one of his prepared. A ‘tangerine’ from the corner that came down with snow at the last second after Rudy’s throw-in.

Bilbao Basket found alternatives in attack and began to address the white colossus on a first-name basis. Hezonja was a very sticky blotter on Hakanson and was given a technical for protesting. The clash became a give and take. Yabusele hit a triple with a foul and, therefore, an additional shot. Two baskets from Smith’s goal tied it at 75 with 3:21 to go. He took the floor Deck on the post. And Withey turned into an ‘alley oop’ sent by Hakanson in the face of Tavares. Deck put the bow to the meeting with a triple front. Mateo celebrated by clenching his fists: 77-82, at -1.48. And that Smith kept some hope with a long basket: 80-82, with 28 seconds. But certain details of consistency were missing. Llull put an end to uncertainty: he remembered old stabbings with two free throws.

Statistics

12

Ludde Hakanson

2

Adam Smith

22

Xavi Rabaseda

19

Emir Sulejmanovic

1

Jeff Withey

23

Michael Kyser

5

Denzel Anderson

8

Alex Reyes

10

Francis Alonso

4

Nikola Radicevic

43

Augustine Ubal

33

Ignatius Rose

Statistics

MinptsRTRODRAstPerrecTapT1T2T3FRCFVal
12

Ludde Hakanson

302940443201/18/104/64333
2

Adam Smith

271921132100/02/65/93116
22

Xavi Rabaseda

23441303210/02/50/2030
19

Emir Sulejmanovic

twenty-one441301200/02/40/0042
1

Jeff Withey

19364230031/21/70/2335
23

Michael Kyser

twenty1010101030/05/80/1018
5

Denzel Anderson

18031200000/00/00/1130
8

Alex Reyes

16431202102/21/20/3103
10

Francis Alonso

12500001102/20/01/1133
4

Nikola Radicevic

6010101000/00/00/001-1
43

Augustine Ubal

3200000000/01/10/0002
33

Ignatius Rose

0000000000/00/00/0000

Statistics

31

dzanan muse

22

Edy Tavares

1

fabien causeur

0

Nigel Williams-Goss

twenty-one

Petr Cornelie

28

Guerschon Yabusele

23

Sergio Llull

14

Gabriel Deck

eleven

Mario Hezonja

17

vincent poirier

5

Rudy Fernandez

13

Sergio Rodriguez

Statistics

MinptsRTRODRAstPerrecTapT1T2T3FRCFVal
31

dzanan muse

251431224201/42/63/7316
22

Edy Tavares

twenty-onefifteen127504121/27/90/02223
1

fabien causeur

twenty230320100/11/30/3120
0

Nigel Williams-Goss

fifteen462410100/0230/1019
twenty-one

Petr Cornelie

8321100111/21/20/3213
28

Guerschon Yabusele

23eleven10102000/11/33/6113
23

Sergio Llull

twenty-one1331231205/81/22/56018
14

Gabriel Deck

twentyeleven20221000/04/71/12110
eleven

Mario Hezonja

14200013100/01/10/0221
17

vincent poirier

14433011002/21/20/0226
5

Rudy Fernandez

7631220100/00/02/410eleven
13

Sergio Rodriguez

4000011000/00/10/001-2

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