Sergio Llull grabbed the spotlight with his basket for history, but in the press conference after the match, with the best player award in his endless arms, Tavares launched a long and forceful speech in defense of Chus Mateo. “We are here for him, because he has believed in us. He has had a lot of confidence in himself and in what he could contribute. Many of you would have to apologize because there have been many doubts and criticisms of him. He is the boss. He has all the credit. He deserves it more than anyone. He is one of the best people I have ever met. You should give him all the credit. There are many alphas in this team and that must be managed ”, reasoned Tavares.
Sitting next to the giant, Chus Mateo could barely hold back his tears. “It’s not easy to talk now,” he tried to tear away next; “Being a Madrid coach is always being under the magnifying glass. I have tried to be pragmatic, to ignore. Many people with less background think. Giving your opinion is free, it’s easy. I know it’s part of my job and I assume it, it’s part of the game. I control what I can, my boys, the coaching staff. If outside they think I’m a package, well I’m a package. Now it’s not that I’m very good, I’m someone who has helped his team win with what he could. It is not necessary to give more importance to people thinking that you do it well or badly ”.
Mateo recognized that in the locker room he lived unforgettable moments with his players. “A lucky shot made us champions. It could have been the other way around. It’s a fairy tale,” said the coach, a winner in his first year as white head coach after the Pablo Laso era.
Kaunas was the summit after a very steep road for Madrid, third in the regular phase of the Euroleague, after Olympiacos and Barça, and against the maestro Obradovic in the quarterfinals. The clash against Partizan was a toothache for the whites, who gave up the first two games at home, resolving the second with a brawl that especially weakened their rival for the games in Belgrade. That’s where the colossal Tavares emerged to extend the series to the fifth round, come back from 18 points and be the first team to turn around a 0-2 loss in a tie. Distressed by casualties, Madrid beat Barça in the semifinals. In the final, facing glory, the last ball went to captain Llull.
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