By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
Diving back into domestic action following the triumph and aftermath of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four is a challenge in itself for Real Madrid.
Head coach Chus Mateo, on the receiving end of the widespread credit highlighted by Final Four MVP Walter Tavares in Kaunas, talked about winning EuroLeague explaining why it was simple to call Sergio Llull for the most crucial shot of the championship game against Olympiacos.
“We all knew Sergio Llull had to take the last ball,” he mentioned during the Escuela Universitaria Real Madrid Universidad Europea referring to the 35-year-old guard connecting the go-ahead jumper with 3.1 seconds on the clock, “If there was someone who had to take that shot, it was Sergio. He made a basket that gave us glory. We have world-class players, but no one could handle the situation like him. I am very happy for him because he deserved it more than anyone.”
“I am still not fully aware of what we achieved,” he described his personal reaction, “I have supported Real Madrid since a little kid and I have a deep understanding of the team’s values. I know we achieved something huge.”
Battle for the domestic title
The Whites are set to wrap up the Regular Season of Spain’s Liga Endesa by playing host to Real Betis today (20:30 CET), Wednesday. From the first game after EuroLeague’s Final Four to the ACB Playoffs, they will welcome Gran Canaria or Joventut Badalona in WiZink Center Sunday to start the Quarterfinals best-of-three series.
“We want to put on a good display for our fans. We want to give it our all as ever because that’s what we like to do, play basketball and give it our best shot in front of our fans following the EuroLeague success,” he previewed the Regular Season Round 34 contest, “I hope we can treat them to a good performance.”
The World Cup challenge
Just coming out of celebrations, Llull along with Madrid teammate Rudy Fernandez committed to play for Spain in this summer’s FIBA World Cup, to be held in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia, from 25 August to 10 September.
“I have spoken with Alberto Herreros, Rudy, Chacho, and Llull. I am very happy for them,” the outgoing president of the Spanish Basketball Federation and the new president of FIBA Europe Jorge Garbajosa told AS.
“The most incredible thing is that when I spoke to them, Llull and Rudy rushed to tell me: see you this summer,” he praised the reaction of the players, immediately after the EuroLeague final.
Spain, the 2022 EuroBasket champions, was recently drawn in Group G of the preliminary round, set to face Ivory Coast, Brazil, and Iran in Jakarta.