Center Gillespie blocks the FCB basketball team to win against Belgrade – sport

Even when Freddie Gillespie is standing in front of you in an oversized hoodie and chatting in a relaxed manner, those long arms immediately catch the eye. His wingspan is estimated at 2.30 meters, with a size of 2.06 meters these are dimensions that are quite useful for a basketball professional. Like on Thursday evening in the game against Red Star Belgrade: In the furious final phase, the center of FC Bayern was one of the most conspicuous players of the hosts in the sold-out Audi Dome and made a decisive contribution to the 87:80 victory.

With five minutes remaining, Munich were still nine points behind, much to the delight of the Serbian fans, who clearly outnumbered them and turned the Dome into a madhouse. But then the hosts turned it on – and ultimately the game. Above all, Bayern captain Vladimir Lucic obviously had little desire to admit defeat to the second Euroleague representative from Belgrade in front of his frenetic compatriots after the home defeat against Partisan almost four weeks ago. The Serbian international contributed 12 of his 20 points in the last quarter, making him the best scorer alongside Cassius Winston, who also scored 20 points. In addition, the 33-year-old returned to the form that makes him so irreplaceable for his team after a long injury break.

At the beginning of the season, Freddie Gillespie was still listening to the trainer’s instructions with wide eyes, but now he’s implementing them spectacularly

Winston shaped Bayern’s game in the first half, after all, the playmaker came to Munich as part of the piñata that sporting director Daniele Baiesi brought to the Isar from the USA. Part two is Center Gillespie, who, like Winston, is 25 years old and is acclimatizing better and better in his first professional stint outside the United States – and is therefore becoming more and more valuable to the team. At the beginning of the season, the giant often stood with his colleagues wide-eyed and listened to the instructions of coach Andrea Trinchieri. In the meantime, he is implementing this spectacularly. The circle of European novices has also been expanded to include Zylan Cheatham, the winger replacing Augustine Rubit, who will be out until the end of the season. Cheatham comes from the New Orleans Pelicans farm team, which plays in the NBA’s G-League, and has a similar history to Winston and Gillespie. The 27-year-old followed the game against Belgrade behind Bayern-Bank and posted the first videos.

The start in Europe wasn’t easy, says Gillespie: “It’s a different country, a different style of basketball, the court is smaller and the game is more tactical. I had a lot to learn.” European professionals are tactically better trained, everyone has a high basketball IQ: “That’s why players like Luka Doncic or Nikola Jokic are decisive in the NBA.”

The learning process at the FCB center is apparently progressing reasonably well, Gillespie is already the fourth-best rebounder in the Euroleague. It’s still the spectacular blocks with which he carried the spectators away on Thursday evening, but he’s also becoming a factor on the offensive. He contributed eight points to victory against Belgrade, and in the exciting final phase he managed three enormously important dunks. “I think I’m learning more every day and now I feel a lot more comfortable and confident on the pitch. That’s the biggest change.” What FC Bayern also played a big part in: On the one hand, he feels very comfortable with his colleagues, and “the club does a lot to make the change as easy as possible for you”.

Coach Trinchieri compares Gillespie to fine wine. It still needs the right amount of oxygen to taste good

And Gillespie is far from having exhausted his opportunities, as his coach shared in his own way. No, Trinchieri decided after the win, “Freddie wasn’t good the whole game”. The Italian rarely suspects himself of exuberant praise, preferring to use a metaphor he likes when describing his center: “Freddie is like a good wine.” On the one hand, this documents the proximity of the Milanese to a fine wine, but at the same time expresses the fact that he expects even better performances from Gillespie. A good wine needs “the right amount of oxygen” to fully develop its taste. In any case, after two mistakes by the center in defense, he “listened to my coaching staff and let him go,” reported Trinchieri. “Then he just had to protect the zone, I think that was the key to the win.”

From then on, Gillespie defended the basket with his octopus arms against the excellent guards of the Serbs, who had recently added Facundo Campazzo to the top duo Nemanja Nedovic and Luca Vildoza, who was iced out of the NBA by the Dallas Mavericks. Bayern turned the game around with a 14-0 run and, with their tenth win from 16 defeats, moved up to 14th place in the table. The eighth and last place in the playoffs is missing three wins in eight games. In view of the quality of the competitors, this goal is probably of a theoretical nature. Not an issue for Gillespie anyway: “In the Euroleague, every game is so tough that you can’t look too far ahead. You have to focus on what’s right in front of you.”


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