In times of uncertainty, crazy schedules, sudden absences, interrupted dynamics, and filming to resume, Real Madrid overcame a Baskonia out of shape and out of focus with intensity and aim. Always off the mark, the team from Vitoria paid for their two weeks of inactivity and were unable to contain Yabusele’s competitive desire (17 points, 13 of them in the first eight minutes, eight rebounds and a PIR of 27). Laso’s team managed an uneventful match with diligence and solvency, in which the Madrid coach took advantage of the slack on the scoreboard to recover Thompkins (remarkable on his return, with 10 points in 12 minutes) and give Randolph a reel (13 points and 12 rebounds in 12 minutes) and Abalde (15 points). Without Tavares (lost at the last minute), Madrid won the rebound (40-22) and imposed their solidity on the full court. It was the Whites’ 15th win (the 10th at home) in 18 games played in the Euroleague. Baskonia, with seven wins and 12 losses, remains in the lower part of the table, although only two wins from the places of playoff.
It was the first game of the year for Baskonia (who had not competed since their resounding victory against Barça on December 30 in Vitoria) and Madrid’s return to continental competition after the feat on Christmas Eve against CSKA (when the Whites achieved victory with 11 casualties in the squad and three debutant juniors in the team). Later, Laso’s team registered the postponements of their matches against Fenerbahçe, Unics and Estrella Roja, due to positives in the rival teams – Baskonia are also missing two, against Maccabi and Efes, in this case due to the outbreak suffered by the squad baskonia- A sequence that does not end in Madrid, which learned of Rudy Fernández’s positive on Thursday and Tavares’s just an hour before the game. Only Williams-Goss, Abalde and Thompkins have escaped contagion in the Madrid medical report for the last month, in the midst of a wave of omicrons. Precisely Thompkins (offside since last year’s quarterfinal against Efes, back in May) was the main novelty in the local squad. But, before having to test Thompkins and without missing Tavares, the Whites launched themselves with determination for the 330th win in 500 Euroleague games (since 2000).
Madrid signed a diligent staging, with a five of five in field goals and three consecutive triples (by Abalde, Yabusele and Taylor). And, with Yabusele as the striker (13 points, four rebounds and one assist in just eight minutes), Laso’s team took off and portrayed Baskonia’s lack of temper with a 23-11 run in that seething stretch of Yabusele. Baldwin and Sedekerskis began to row, but could not add troops to the cause. Another basket by Yabusele and a three-pointer by Heurtel increased the locals’ bank (32-21, m. 12). And, at that moment, eight months after that arthroscopy that didn’t seem like such a big deal, Thompkins returned to official competition. The American made up for the inactivity with a good pulse and presented himself with five points in three minutes against Baskonia who, by then, were still off the mark (39-28, m. 16). Spahija’s team got into a quagmire of thickness in attack and lack of control in defense. Madrid’s scoring production reached 50 points just before the trip to the locker room, at a symmetrical average of 25 points per quarter. The dominance in the rebound (17-8), the greater intensity and dynamism, and the success in the shot marked the takeoff of Laso’s men (50-35, m. 20).
Baskonia barely reacted after the break despite Neven Spahija’s review of the primer in the intermission. The team from Vitoria found neither the firmness nor the perseverance to compete with a Madrid always driven by the voracity of Yabusele, eager to celebrate his renewal until 2025. The percussion of the French power forward marked the resounding superiority of the whites (59-39 , m. 24). A triple by Baldwin and two by Costello revived Baskonia for a few moments. But between Randolph (on point and rebound per minute on the court) and Abalde (acting as a point guard with authority) they kept the pulse and managed without trouble the Madridista income. From 61-48 to 69-50 at the end of the third quarter. From 75-64 with four minutes to go, to the final 89-74. Another exercise in solidity for Laso’s Madrid who, after overcoming a mismatched Baskonia, finished second in the standings, one win behind Barça’s lead and with two games played less than the Barça team.