The Bilbao Basket orchestra sounds in tune

Bilbao Basket has made it a routine to win at home. It is true that they have lost in Miribilla against Madrid, Baskonia and Obradoiro, but, removing the people from Vitoria, the other two suffered unspeakably. They always show their faces and the stimulus of the Cup makes them even more ambitious. The orchestra sounds very in tune with the warmth of its people and joins the small group of teams with eight wins, with Gran Canaria and Breogán. In Girona they can reach those nine victories that usually ensure the party of the best eight at the end of the first round. It was necessary to return to the smile after the logical setbacks against Madrid and Unicaja. Apart from that possible unexpected prize of the KO tournament, the team sows admiration. It does not matter that Murcia arrived diminished by a harassing calendar, which cited him on Tuesday in Europe against Pinar Karsiyaka and on Friday against the powerful Tenerife, which he shattered. It would have been the perfect week if it was 3-0. Surne passed over him from start to finish, they overwhelmed him with that ‘Dynamic Duo’ formed by Hakanson and Smith. The Swede continues his ascent to the skies. ‘MVP, MVP’, they fire him every time he closes one of his recitals at home. Although there are times when the Biscayans get stuck, they play with admirable discipline and never give up. His basketball is of the highest level. A convincing task once again, despite the rival’s timid approaches.

To begin with, the now traditional whistle for Sito Alonso y Rojas. Radicevic is out again. Surne started with great success and a higher intensity against one of the toughest and most physical teams in the ACB. He led the way with a 6-0 run. Ponsarnau removed Sulejmanovic after two minutes, something that was somewhat strange, but it was to better adjust the pairing with the right ‘four’. Sito was forced to stop the game at 10-2. The people of Murcia do not have the same staging in their ‘bombonera’ at the Palace and outside. They seemed to react with Davis and Trice, two players whose class is falling out of their pockets, while Bellas, McFadden and Jelínek are in the downhill of their career: 10-8. The locals found the scoring path again with a reborn Francis Alonso, but they were condemned by the corridors they left towards their basket. They had to close the painting or else they were going to have a hard time.


99 – Surne Bilbao Basket (27+23+27+22): Hakanson (25), Smith (20), Rabaseda (5), Sulejmanovic (5) and Withey (11) -starting five-; Ubal (1), Francis Alonso (10), Reyes (4), Andersson (10), Kyser (8), Rosa and Barandalla.

81 – UCAM Murcia (21+19+20+21): Bellas, McFadden (8), Anderson (5), Luther (2) and Pustovyi (9) -starting five-; Trice (17), Davis (12), Jelínek (6), Rojas, Radovic (13), Diop (9) and Sakho.

Referees: Carlos Cortés, Francisco Araña and Raúl Zamorano. No deleted.

Incidents: Match of the fifteenth round of the Endesa League, played at the Bilbao Arena in Miribilla in front of 7,079 spectators.

Within a first half with ups and downs, the ‘men in black’ led the clash face to face, with an advantage of around ten. Smith went into combustion before the break with his heady anarchy: a three-pointer and a basket from two made it 48-36 with 1:14 remaining. Between him his compatriot Withey made it 10-0. At halftime, Bilbao Basket had scored 50 points, which is not bad at all. Ubal forced his sore ankle to tighten the defense and Hakanson showed that he is not only a terminal player, he dished out games with assists (11) to show off others. The Biscayan team, better in rebounding than the university students, felt that they had half the job done, but, at the same time, they suspected that Sito Alonso was going to ask his people in those changing rooms that he knows so well to raise the bar of aggressiveness . His team was always one step behind, relying on surviving through the inspiration of Trice and Davis.

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But there was no such hint of reaction. It is true that Rojas tightened the defense on Hakanson, accompanied by that show that often adorns him. But the start of the Swede after the break, with 15 points in seven minutes, ended up breaking the match. He is an absolute genius looking for one-legged shots going back. He punished his peers when they missed the blocks behind or got stuck. He executed quickly, in the first seconds of possession, but they were good shots, because the advantage was clear. He is inspired and everything enters him. Smith wanted to follow his path, but sometimes he rushed, it seems impossible to match such a level. This Bilbao Basket also knows how to enjoy without Hakanson: a 12-2 made it look 77-60. UCAM had the order to play with Pustovyi, but soon ran out of gasoline. He didn’t win a quarter. Radovic was another of those who were saved from burning. The advantage grew to 96-74, everyone knew that the more points accumulated, the better to go to Badalona in February.

“We are going to Girona knowing that there may be a prize”, proclaimed Ponsarnau. He continues to think that in the two previous games the referees have not respected the criteria for both sides. Bilbao Basket did not finish the day seventh by one point, since it tied with Granca but has scored less overall. Sito Alonso left booed, since in Miribilla they don’t forget his departure to Baskonia in 2016, and greeting the stands ironically: “I don’t allow anyone, especially Bilbao Basket, to call me a pesetero. That’s a lie. I don’t forgive him in life, I’m the complete opposite. A little respect, I have left 115,000 euros net. I trained here with monetary needs and shortfalls in payments. In life I will allow it. It has become clear? Careful with that”. He said it looking at the face of the president of Bilbao Basket, Isabel Iturbe. “In all the clubs where I have been, I have tried to make the money go after my sporting goals. As for the rest, I am not going to insist on a subject that when I am older I will talk about, ”she concluded. “If the people who had me for one of their own felt betrayed when I left, she was the one. I will admit to whistling always.” She got up from the table in the press room and left.

Ponsarnau admits that they already feel “the stimulus of the Cup”

Ponsarnau admitted that, after having achieved their eighth victory of the season, they face the next day, in which they will visit Girona, “with the encouragement of the Cup”. “We are going to Girona knowing that there may be a prize, or perhaps there is not. Now we are thinking about it because we know that fighting for this helps us to fight for a more transcendent objective, which is to be one of the 16 best teams at the end”, assessed the Tàrrega coach.

Regarding the match, he highlighted that his team was “solid”, winning all four sets, and also prevailed “in the fight for the rebound -41 to 31 from UCAM Murcia- and feeling “covered from the stands when things have not turned out well.” Ponsarnau also praised the work of a Hakanson -25 points and 11 assists- who “the defensive proposal of UCAM is doing well, except physically”. “He has taken a step forward. He is learning and growing and he is helping us grow, ”said the coach about the Swedish base.

Sito: “Here you are either one hundred percent or it costs”

Sito Alonso considered that the last minutes of the second quarter and the “spectacular” start of the third by Ludde Hakanson were key in the defeat of UCAM. “There they have opened a gap that is not insurmountable, but difficult to counteract when we have not had the best day in many things. You have to learn to play when the mistake is big, especially away from home. On a track like this, either you are 100 percent from the beginning or it costs a lot”, Alonso admitted.

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