By Nikos Varlas/ email@example.com
Eurohoops will select 3 players from each team in the Final Four whose performance we consider crucial regarding how their teams will fare in Madrid and will present them in 12 different parts. One by one they will “parade” through and we will focus on their role and the reasons they are important.
Why he’s a catalyst
Sergio Llull is the player that stays on the court the longest for Real together with Rudy (last year he was first in participation time, far ahead of the second). The main point guard in a team that relies to a large extent on its guards’ play along the perimeter and their rhythm – but on their accuracy percentages as well. These reasons are enough to reveal the level of importance and impact of the 28yearold Spaniard on the game of Pablo Laso’s team.
His contribution is multifaceted. He is the basic creator of his team or at least the equivalent pole in this area when he plays alongside Rodriguez. He’s regularly within the top 3/4 scorers of an ensemble that is by nature offensive, while he often takes over the most difficult match up in defense. He can do so many things at once for the very simple reason that he’s a machine that produces energy!
The absolute barometer for the ‘queen’ together with Rudy and Rodriguez. With his big shots and great personal performances domestic titles have been won in recent years, and when he has had bad nights Real has suffered defeats that have cost them.
There will be no exception to the rule. Sergio Llull’s presence in the final four that will be held at Real’s home, the condition he will be in and the way he will play, will determine at a catalytic level the outcome of the course and the effort to return to the European throne after 20 whole years.
Pablo Laso is expecting the Spanish guard to organize properly, to guide his teammates throughout, to do some damage in the open court and of course to score with long shots. A player who, if he gets into a rhythm outside of the 6m.75, is a lethal hazard.
The most important? To remain the ‘king’ in a particular category, crucial in modern basketball: assists – turnovers ratio. His season in this area is out of this world! He has only committed 22 mistakes for 162 assists and he enters the F4 with the unbelievable 736.36% in the creation – error ratio! Don’t be surprised if you see him, parallel to his focal role in offense, being the player that will start ahead of Andrew Goudelock.
The ‘black hole’ final
He has won gold medals in the Eurobasket with the national team of Spain, silver in the Olympic Games, a championship and trophies as an MVP, as well as a Spanish super cup. If there’s one thing missing from his career, it’s definitely the Euroleague! He has already tasted the bitterness of two lost finals, in the last two seasons.
And if against Olympiacos in London he was good (14 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, with 5/12 shots) his plunge in last year’s final against Maccabi is still hard to explain. That’s when, in 36 minutes, he remained scoreless with 0/7 shots, the only time in the season when he didn’t score. The wound of the “black hole” final will heal once and for all by winning the European title in Madrid.