The umpteenth resurrection of Laso's Madrid

Pablo Laso celebrates Real Madrid's ACB League title. / ep


The reconversion of Hanga in the point guard position, the role of the veterans Llull and Rudy, a remarkable defensive capacity and the power inside with Tavares, Poirier and Yabusele, pillars of the Whites' ACB League title

Jose Manuel Andres

Pablo Laso's Real Madrid ended the regular season in the ACB League and the Euroleague in deep crisis. With their eternal rival, Jasikevicius's Barça, leading in Spain and also in Europe, the white team faced the decisive 'playoffs' of both competitions with two wins in their last ten duels, a good number of injuries, Trey Thompkins and Thomas Heurtel separated for disciplinary reasons and endless rumors of signings, as if the season was already over.

After losing in the final of the Copa del Rey de Granada against Barça and in a precarious situation, the war drums sounded again against Laso. The coach from Vitoria, a collector of titles, has had to deal with criticism on a few occasions. He was even a foot and a half off the white bench after those lost Euroleague finals against Olympiacos and Maccabi in 2013 and 2014, but he has always come out unscathed.

In this Madrid that has been evolving throughout the eleven seasons of the Laso era, the names change, even the style, but something remains unchanged: an enormous competitive spirit. First it was the irruption of Nigel Williams-Goss, whom nobody expected, against Maccabi to get the ticket to the 'final four' in Belgrade on the fast track.

Then, when Madrid was definitively left without specific bases due to the American's injury, it was time for versatility. Hanga has offered the necessary step forward from the direction of the game, but they have also accompanied the role of veterans Llull and Rudy Fernández, who have earned continuity for another year, the emergence of Gabi Deck at the level of his first stage or the points of Causeur, another player who pointed to an exit and who has at least made the offices doubt with his great performance in the final playoff.

The giant Tavares returns hegemony to Madrid

Something definitely changed in Belgrade, where after five defeats in the previous six classics in the season, Madrid left their great rival composed and without a girlfriend. The powerful Barça, designed to storm the Euroleague title that had eluded them in the final of the previous year, crashed in a semifinal that definitively rearmed the white team and left Saras's men stunned.

The ACB 'playoff' confirmed these mixed feelings, as Madrid left Manresa and Baskonia behind in an immaculate way, while Barça did the same with Gran Canaria in the quarterfinals and then suffered more against Joventut. Laso's heart problem, which forced the coach to leave the bench in the final stretch, was the umpteenth challenge for a team punished by setbacks this season, but capable of recovering to turn difficulty into encouragement. Chus Mateo, an assistant with head coach tables, assumed the baton at the decisive moment.

Inner domain and defense

Already in the final series between the two giants, the first assault in Barcelona confirmed the bad omens in Can Barça. The total dominance in the paint, at the hands of the colossi Tavares, Poirier and Yabusele, in addition to a top-level choral defensive exercise, put the white advantage from the first moment. Jasikevicius demanded more energy from his team, who dreamed of 1-1 after a narrow victory in the second game, marked by the arbitration controversy. It was a mirage, because the blow of the third game, already at the WiZink Center, was too much.

Madrid smelled the blood of its rival and did not miss the opportunity to close the title without returning to the Palau. Now the rumors and criticism have changed sides, softening what seemed like a traumatic transition in Madrid. On the white agenda are already the signings of Sergio Rodríguez, Mario Hezonja and Dzanan Musa, game direction and outside scoring, with the addition of a starting point guard and a four on the radar, but the project continues to be a winner to introduce changes from the tranquility.

For its part, Barça, which already seemed like a hegemonic team, now finds itself with a huge salary cost and the need to turn Saras' idea around. Brandon Davies, with his head already in his future as an Armani Milan player throughout the final series, will make way for Jan Vesely in the Barça inside game. The future of Calathes, Kuric, Exum, Hayes or Oriola is also in doubt and an ex like Satoransky is the great wish to renew the point guard position.

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