Since my previous column, our Unicaja closed one of the objectives, not written but expected, the qualification for the Final Four of the European competition, something that, since the change from Eurocup to FIBA BCL, was taken for granted, but that the Last season meant another fiasco of those that became so common that they ended up seeming normal in the compositor DNA.
I don’t know if it was because they had to play the previous one of the competition, or because they were more respectful, but the midweek game in Europe has been quite good for the preparation and aspirations of Ibon Navarro’s squad, and above all, for the integration of the news, something that is seen as one of the main values of this template. I think that the continental rivals have helped Kendrick Perry, Tyson Carter or Dylan Osetkowski to take the pulse of what the coach wanted from them, to find out that the ACB League is still the strongest on the continent, and to get the set-up necessary for the term ambition to be something more than an empty concept.
Apart from this, after the tie in Murcia, something that was intended to be sold as a cruel and ruthless battle from the eliminated club and it resulted in an indisputable victory for Unicaja without a rival during the 80 minutes of play, it is time to continue with the ACB League, wait for the rival of the BCL in the Final Four and turn the page and take note of the flagrant errors of others (perpetrated from the leadership of the club, from the bench, on the track and in a part of the stands) and not run the risk of repeating them if at some point the opportunity arises.
From the FIBA BCL it is also necessary to put in situation the path traveled, how it has been achieved and especially the rivals that Unicaja has faced. Of the seven rivals that the Malaga team has had in Europe (qualifying separately), only Dinamo Sassari and PAOK Thessaloniki are in the top four, JDA Dijon and AEK Athens are sixth, and Galatasaray is seventh, UCAM Murcia, twelfth and Limoges fourteenth. in their respective competitions.
It is not about belittling the work of the staff or the results obtained, just putting things in perspective. You have to understand that the rivals are the ones that the competition has placed, but last year there was only one step of difference with respect to what was achieved at the moment and the sensations were tremendously different, even before the playoff tie against BAXI Manresa, so it is a matter of putting what has been achieved to its proper measure, enjoying it, but above all, understanding that it is one more step to climb, and who knows, if it can be used to achieve a new milestone in the club history.
While the next day 25 arrives and the rival in the BCL semifinals is known, it is time to fight for a little less than a month with a calendar that puts Río Breogán, Casademont Zaragoza, Joventut, Real Madrid and Manresa on the horizon before thinking again in the BCL.
The first stop, Lugo, against a historic Río Breogán, and whose current status does not place it in the elite, but which will mean a tough game, in an environment where they like to play and with a rival in front of them with more than remarkable players in their template.
Under the command of the well-known Veljko Mrsic, a more than solid team has been put together in Lugo, with people like Scott Bamforth and Ethan Happ standing out in scoring, the latter also being the best rebounder and ball recoverer in the competition, Justus Hollatz almost in 3.5 assists per game and Toni Nakic with more than 40% on 3-point shots, perhaps he lacks a point to storm the playoff zone fully fledged.
Unicaja’s moment is of a bonanza that could not be imagined a few months ago with everything that has recently been experienced, and the best and most important thing is being the trip, even leaving aside the destination where the Ibon team arrives, as he already said in his day a Konstantinos Kavafis, who, despite being Greek, should not be found in the squads of the Athens teams, better in poetry books. Let’s keep enjoying.