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Madrid and Barça, two ways of managing adversity

P. L.

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Fabian Causeur, after scoring a decisive triple that left the final practically sentenced, froze his gaze and ran his finger down his neck. Real Madrid slaughtered Barcelona in the race for the ACB title (3-1) and won its 36th league title, a totally unexpected epilogue to a season that the Catalans dominated at its core but that ended up being conquered by the white in its outcome. those of Conversation Jasikeviciuson the rise since the Lithuanian’s arrival on the bench in July 2020, have suffered an express collapse in the last month of competition, almost inexplicable how a machine that bordered on perfection (first in the ACB and Euroleague regular phase) has ended up to be an inert group, weak in sport and sad in soul.

Becoming very different from what Madrid has had, which after a meteoric start to the campaign went through almost all the hardships to which a professional team can be exposed and collected several of the worst streaks of results in the club’s history. But “it is at the end of the course when the grades are put”, as Tavares said after winning the title, and there, Madrid, has been outstanding.

“It has been a very tough season” was the most repeated phrase by the Madrid phalanx during the celebration at the WiZink Center last Sunday. The whites were ecstatic, psychologically collapsed after months of inclement weather and having their jaws tense. A promising start to the campaign, 32 wins in the first 38 games of the season in all competitions (with two impressive streaks in between, 10 and 11 consecutive wins), foreshadowed that Madrid would lift metals again at the end of the season. Even the group had recovered from an uncontrollable outbreak of Covid at the end of 2021 (they beat the CSKA in the EuroLeague with only five players in the rotation) but, unexpectedly, the problems began to pile up in February.

Carlos Alocén was the first to suffer from the evil eye that has accompanied the team in the point guard position. The player tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a match against Zaragoza on the 15th and Causeur fell shortly after, just before the Copa del Rey and when the calendar was a bottleneck due to postponements due to Covid. Williams-Goss, a big signing in the summer, came and went from Laso’s rotations and the team, after losing in the final against Barcelona, ​​began to completely unravel. Between March and April they lost 15 of 20 matches and the fire reached the ceiling when Laso “definitively” separated Thomas Heurtel and Trey Thompkins for extra-sports matters.

Everything seemed lost and even the figure of the Basque coach, who after winning the ACB on Sunday has become the second coach in the history of Madrid with the most titles (22, only behind Pedro Ferrandiz27, and tied with Lolo Sainz), was beginning to be questioned. It was in the Euroleague playoffs against the Israeli Maccabi when everything changed. A convincing 3-0 in the tie launched Madrid, which added thirteen notches in 15 games, a stretch in which they won the first game of the season against Barça (they had lost the previous five), they were one basket away from winning the Euroleague and finished the comeback with a league title for history. And all this with the well-known health problems of Pablo Laso. “There are years when you win everything and you don’t feel so proud. This year we haven’t won everything and I’m very proud,” said the man from Vitoria after lifting the ACB.

Much more bittersweet has been the end of Barcelona, ​​suffered its fate after being eliminated in the Final Four in Belgrade, which they came to reconquer an elusive title since 2010 and from which they came out with too many ghosts. Doubts arise in a project created to win the Euroleague and that after some firm first steps, suffers a significant fall. Barça prepares a clean to counteract the disappointing end of the season (Jan Vesely and Thomas Satoransky appear on the horizon as luxury reinforcements). Jasikevicius, with one year left on his contract, will continue to be the undisputed leader of the team from the bench, although it seems that in recent weeks the occasional crack has been generated between the coaching staff and the dressing room, even more so after the disappointing final against Madrid . “The season has been a bit of a failure, we are Barça, we must aspire to more,” he said. Mirotic after the defeat.

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