ACB: Tavares, the MVP who “knew nothing about basketball” and who changed the game at Real Madrid | CBA 2021


The African center, with statistics for history, has reached his pinnacle in the playoffs that gave the League to the white team, which launched for him four years ago after a plague of injuries.

Tavares, with his son Samuel in his arm and the MVP trophy of the final.SERGIO PEREZEFE
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Just over four years ago, Walter Tavares He was involved in one of those endeavors that dilutes so many careers, that of the NBA. That winter that changed his destiny forever, he was in Toronto, enrolled in his development team (Raptors 905), months after being cut by the Cavaliers with whom he barely played a game (plus 11 in the entire previous season in Atlanta). Then, Gustavo Ayn injured his shoulder and Real Madrid, who had already lost Ognjen Kuzmicaccelerated an operation that was to mark the future of the laso project and that these last few weeks have culminated in the historic dominance of the African in the Endesa League playoffs.

The giant was an appetizing bet, but it was neither easy nor cheap. And it carried risks. In the first place, it was difficult to convince Edy to give up his dream of succeeding in the NBA. In addition, the competition for the signing of a player trained in Spain and therefore a national quota, was great. Bara himself had his nets on him for the following summer. But what made him doubt the most was his ability to succeed in a style, that of the fast-paced game of Laso’s early days -he didn’t seem exactly made for pvots-, which didn’t fully adapt to the characteristics of a type of 221 player. centimeters. The truth is that Tavares was going to make everything revolve around him.

Edy’s season has pushed all limits of physical and mental endurance. Especially considering that he landed with little rest, from the Afrobasket that he wanted to play for his own desire with the Cape Verde national team – this summer repeat -, such is the link with his native country, which he boasts flag in hand at each celebration. In a not very recommendable effort, he took the humble team to the semifinals and in a few days he was planted in the Super Cup. With hardly any physical mishaps -just the contagion by covid in January-, he has resisted blows and scratches to play 80 games this year, with 22 minutes on average: only Gerschon Yabusele He surpasses him in Madrid. His obsession with rest and physical care – a couple of years ago he changed his diet – has paid off. His pre-match warm-up routines are exhausting.


Because if Tavares was already chosen in the best quintet in the Euroleague, it has been the playoffs where his influence has multiplied exponentially. The pvot has averaged 13.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and a PIR of 20 in the series for the title, culminating in the decisive match against Bara: only Michael Anderson (Caja San Fernando) in the second match of the 1996 final and Bryan Sallier (TDK Manresa) in the first of the 1998 finals had signed statistically superior exhibitions in such summits.

Although if there is a fact that speaks of what Tavares changes the games, it is the +/-. With him on the pitch during the nine games he has played in the current playoffs, Real Madrid have beaten their rivals by a difference of 137 points. “My first job is to help my teammates in defense. In attack, whatever they give me or give me is welcome,” he declared with his usual humility as soon as he scored 25 points (the second score of his career), 13 rebounds and seven of seven on free throws. And against a Bara that he does not so much seemed to have, with Sanlian antdote against l.


They confirm from their surroundings the calm character of Edy, a guy devoted to basketball and his family. No tattoos or promises. He faces life as if it were a gift since he was discovered by a photo in which he was taller than the door of his house. A few years ago, in an interview in this newspaper, he commented on the whims of fate: “Perhaps I would be at my mother’s house, helping her with a small store she had. Or sitting under a tree doing nothing. I stopped studying to help her, because the poor thing was so tired that she couldn’t stand 12 hours standing in the store. Then the opportunity arose to come to Spain and I went with everything. I didn’t care. I didn’t know how to play, I didn’t know anything about basketball, but I knew I had to taking advantage of the opportunity”.

It soon became clear that Maio’s diamond, who barely knew how to bounce the ball when he arrived in Gran Canaria in 2009, had so many possibilities that he just had to adapt to it. Edy, from those training sessions in which he could barely stand, has not stopped evolving. At 30 years old, he has won the first MVP of his career because he knew how to amplify his threats. “I have trained a lot, my goal was to improve in attack,” he confessed with his child Samuel in his arms.

That, the personal is the other support of the giant. A year ago her first child was born, the fruit of her marriage to Paula, her number one fan, a regular on the WiZink stands and her husband’s fierce defender on social media. In Madrid she found a life plan -she renewed for five years in 2019-, with one of the highest salaries in the workforce, and always with an eye on her small island where, when he was a child, there were no baskets. He will travel there in a few days, where Samuel will be able to meet uncles and grandparents. And where the other efforts of his father are focused with the Foundation with which he tries to help his compatriots.

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