By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
Real Madrid center Walter Tavares has already emerged as a frontrunner for winning “EuroLeague Best Defender” nine games into the 2018-2019 campaign and has no problem admitting that receiving the honor is among the goals he has set for himself this season.
“That’s one of the goals,” Tavares told Eurohoops. “I’d like to win Defensive Player of the Year. It’s the trophy that a coach wants his player to win. That’s one of the goals for the end of the season.”
The work that Tavares is putting towards the DPOY goal has been extremely potent. Not only is the Cape Verdean center leading the EuroLeague in blocks with 2.4 over 20:32 (more than twice than Darussafaka’s Jeremy Evans who is second at the list with 1.25 per game and 10 overall), and 4.76 per 40 minutes but he also holds the top defensive rating (84.1, per Overbasket) in the strongest defensive team (Real has a competition-best 91.2, per Overbasket) in EuroLeague so far.
“I think I’m trying to get better every day. Help my teammates. If I do things better individually, I think they are going to help my team to win games. I have to say focused and keep learning,” Tavares said when asked about his performances this campaign that so far produce 7.4 points (on 70 percent, 28/40 from the field), 7.6 rebounds plus the 2.4 blocks.
A lesson to be learned for Tavares and his teammates is perhaps the first loss of the season in EuroLeague that came Thursday (23/11). Olympiacos dispatched the generally rock-solid defense of Real in Piraeus, and the defending champions saw their previously spotless record dropped to 1-8.
“We were not aggressive in the first quarter. We played like that in the third quarter. We didn’t have the same intensity from beginning to the end,” Tavares commented.
“Still a lot of games to play. The most important ones are at the playoffs and in the Final Four,” he added.