Updated:11/09/2021 00: 18h
The imminent 2021-22 season will begin this Saturday with the semifinal matches of the Endesa Super Cup between Barcelona-Valencia Basket (7:00 p.m., Let’s go) and Lenovo Tenerife-Real Madrid (21:00 hours, Let’s go). Not just any course starts with two matches, because the illusion of the entire staff that surrounds the basketball scene exceeds any known limit. On one side, the public returns to the pavilionsOn the other hand, the level of the ACB clubs seems more equal than ever, with teams like Valencia, Tenerife, Zaragoza or Burgos trained to put the big three of the Euroleague in trouble.
In addition, both Real Madrid and Barcelona, historically accustomed to dominate cross-border tournaments by inertia, are experiencing a start to the campaign full of changes where ambition and fear coexist in equal parts in both places. After a summer trading card change, with Laprovittola heading to Barcelona, and Heurtel and Build taking the opposite path, both templates vary widely in relation to last year. Let’s analyze how each club arrives at the start of the season.
A Real Madrid plundered by the NBA
Last season was, without a doubt, the most difficult for the Whites since Pablo Laso was in charge of the Madrid bench. Established in success since 2012, the 2020-21 academic year brought with it an instability more typical of the convulsive beginning of the millennium that the capital club suffered than of the boom years under the baton of the Vitorian. The campaign got off to a good start, achieving the title of Super Cup and giving the usual signs of a healthy and solvent project sustained by years of bonanza. However, soon, the season turned towards nightmare. Madrid suffered endless injuries, lost Campazzo and Deck in the middle of the year (both cajoled by the NBA) and reached the end of the season still fighting for everything with a stoic and improvised group of teenagers and veterans who were close to lifting a trophy. In the Euroleague they put the a posteriori champion Anadolu Efes on the ropes, forcing the fifth game and giving a lesson in competitiveness that the Madrid fans will hardly forget. Despite that exhibition in the defeat, the squad arrived rickety at the end of the season, where the best Barça in ten years beat them in the Cup final and took the league title.
This summer, the NBA returned to reclaim Madrid talent. Usman Garuba he orphaned the white zone, crossed the Atlantic and ended up at the Houston Rockets in search of fulfilling the dream of any young basketball player. Despite the weak circumstances, Madrid has been reinforced with exciting players such as the North American base William-Goss or the confident French power forward Give it back.
But, how could it be otherwise, the two incorporations that have made the most headlines this summer are those of ex-Barcelona players Hanga and Heurtel, the latter, the protagonist of the Istanbul grotesque. Forward and guard reinforce two weakened positions in Laso’s rotation, they have plenty of boards and quality and, if injuries respect them, they will be important players in the season. Both players, after Baskonia and Barça, will meet for the third time in a professional club. “I don’t know how we do it, we seem to be chasing each other. For me it is fortunate to coincide with him, he is one of the best guards in Europe ”, declared Hanga about the French base in the presentation of the Endesa League last Tuesday. Asked about his signing by the eternal rival, Hanga was blunt: “It cost me zero to decide for Real Madrid, it was very clear to me”.
Madrid faces the Super Cup with the Thompkins and Randolph casualties, still limping from the serious injuries suffered last year. Nor will it be Alberto Abalde after suffering “a muscle injury in the anterior rectus of the right quadriceps”, as reported by the club in an official statement. In the meantime, Jaycee Carroll The renewal offer that would link him to the white entity for another season remains unanswered and, of course, he will not be in Tenerife either.
Barcelona, the rival to beat despite its institutional crisis
The terrible financial problems of Barcelona dot all its sections. As ABC recently reported, the last victim has been Nikola Mirotic, urged by the club to lower the salary. However, and despite its delicate situation, the Barça team has kept its key men in achieving the double (Montenegrin himself, Calathes, Higgins or Davies). In the casualty chapter, apart from the aforementioned Heurtel and Hanga, he has only regretted the departure of important players such as Bolmaro, who will play in the NBA (Timberwolves) and Claver that will do it in Valencia. Westermann and Pustovyi have also abandoned the Catalan discipline.
To make up for the numerous casualties, Barcelona has hired established players in Europe such as Sanli (Ephesus), Nigel Hayes and Jokubaitis (Zalgiris) and Laprovittola, which after some good Games, will give air to the outside rotation of Jasikevicius. Their squad is still excellent, they are the rival to beat in Spain and they are once again a serious contender to lift the Euroleague, a title that touched in Cologne and has been resisting them since 2010.
In this Super Cup, Barça will not be able to count on their new star center Sertac Sanli, recently injured in the Catalan League. Yes it will be Pierre Oriola, who in the presentation of the Endesa League attended ABC and assured that he is fully recovered from his discomfort suffered in the preseason and that he arrives in form at the Canarian event. He also had words for another of the unknowns of the Barça season: Pau Gasol. «When he thinks he wants to go back and wants to go back, I as captain and member of the squad will be willing to return and help us as it did last year, “he said. Oriola, who shares a position with the legendary player, acknowledged that Pau’s presence makes him less important on the floor. «It is a very tough competition and obviously it was not easy in the last three months of last season for me because had more prominence than me. But in the end this is sport and I will continue working to have my opportunity to help the team, “he concluded.
For their part, both Valencia Basket and Lenovo Tenerife, after signing a very great regular season last year, face the Super Cup with renewed spirits. The La Fonteta team, with Joan Peñarroya as the new coach after his great work in Burgos, will have Tobey and Prepelic, both guilty of the Slovenian Olympic success, with their star Dubljevic and with the new and exciting incorporation of Xabi López-Arostegui. On the other hand, the hosts of the tournament, maintain the core that helped them to the semi-finals of the League last season: continue the MVP Shermadini and the inexhaustible Marcelinho Huertas, member of the best quintet of the last ACB.
Basketball is back and what better way to do it than with a knockout tournament, a vibrant ‘win or go home’ that opens a season full of unknowns to solve.