The history of Madrid and Barça, from the growth of Tavares to the disappointment of Mirotic | Sports

“He’s not human,” the EuroLeague wrote in a Twitter message during the last quarter of the semifinal between Barcelona and Madrid. He was accompanied by the image of an unleashed Tavares after another of his impressive flights to block the Barça player on duty who dared to enter his domain. Laprovittola, Satoransky, Abrines and Vesely watched the giant tower over them like a mountain and spit out their pitches like they were dwarfs. Any ball was swallowed up by hands that in size were nothing to envy of those of Arvydas Sabonis, a spectator in Kaunas of a new exhibition of the Cape Verdean stalk. Tavares had 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks, a devastating statistic that further dwarfed the tragic night of the rival star, Nikola Mirotic: three points and zero of seven in triples.

There are signings that change history. Edy Tavares’s on November 10, 2017 was one of them. Barça had planned the hiring of the center for the following season, who was then training in the NBA Development League with the Raptors 905, but the offer of an immediate incorporation and a motivational talk by Pablo Laso convinced the player to change the plane ticket to Madrid. Then began another path of improvement for Tavares, the big man who when he landed in the Canary Islands barely knew how to coordinate and who in the white house had to incorporate the offensive fundamentals into an armored body for the trenches.

Basketball growth has been of such a caliber that today he is the most decisive player in Europe, the all-time top shooter in the Euroleague (372 blocks), the best defender in the ACB for the third year in a row, in the European ideal quintet… unique physical conditions to stop rivals (2.20m tall, 2.40m wingspan and 125 kilos in weight) and a continuous dedication to go to help, Tavares has incorporated a reading of the game and an ability to pass that often also make him the offensive beacon of the team. Although he puts his feet on the ground and focuses on what he knows how to do best. “I have always felt important, but I am very clear about what I have to do, which is to help the team from defense, that is the main thing I focus on. What happens next in attack is a gift to me because this team has incredible attacking talent and often they don’t need to help out there. I have to help from behind,” the African commented this Saturday before the final against Olympiacos (Sunday at 7:00 p.m., Dazn). And there are the records of him. In 71 games this season he has amassed 455 rebounds (6.4 on average) and 155 blocks (2.2).

“It is absolutely key for us”, Chus Mateo surrenders. Even more so when the casualties of Poirier, Deck and Yabusele have deprived Madrid of three solid assets under the board. Tavares must work overtime and multiply. In the series against Partizán he reached the peak of 35 minutes on court in the third match, in Belgrade, and in the semifinals in Kaunas against Barça he stretched his presence to 33 when his average this season in Europe is 22 minutes. In addition, today on the court there will be someone looking at him at eye level: the Frenchman Moustapha Fall, 2.18m. “It will make it very difficult for me. We measure almost the same. He does things like me, ”commented the Real Madrid player about an expected train crash.

At 31 years old, Tavares ends his contract within a season and the club moves to negotiate a renewal within its economic scale.

Mirotic, before Ndiaye.
Mirotic, before Ndiaye.PETRAS MALUKAS (AFP)

Mirotic is also found in that fit between performance and money. The power forward landed at the Palau in 2019, closing a trip that in the NBA took him through Chicago, New Orleans and Milwaukee. In that professional and personal swerve he weighed a contract until 2025 at a rate of about 10 million euros per year, amounts that far exceed those entered by other European stars. The then Barça president Josep Maria Bartomeu threw the house out of the window without sparing himself in expenses in order to bid with everything for the Euroleague, but three consecutive disappointments in the Final Four have reopened the debate on such a strong investment. In times of cuts, at 32 years old, and after a disastrous night in Kaunas that the player himself described as “the hardest day” of his career, his future is an unknown quantity that not even he himself can figure out.

“I have to get up quickly as a player and as a person because I know what I have to do and what is expected of me. I will try to do better, because worse is very difficult. When the season is over I’ll be there, the club knows it and we’ll talk about what we have to talk about. I am honest, I live day by day. I don’t know what will happen in two months. I have a contract, I would like to finish in Barcelona, ​​but we have seen a lot of people, and I am also referring to football, with a contract and who have not been able to finish ”, Mirotic explained this Saturday before training. “I am looking forward to being here, to try to fulfill the promise I made when I came here, to do something important, to make people happy. From there we will see what happens with my future, although I have a two-year contract and, obviously, I have to say that I would like to fulfill it, but here it is not very sure”, added the Barça captain.

A few minutes later, Juan Carlos Navarro, sports director of the section, recalled that the star has to recover and be “professional to win the League”. On the future of Jasikevicius, Navarro assured that he is “an option” [que siga] the next course.

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