Marcelinho Huertas and Giorgi Shermadini. One is 40 years old – he just turned this Thursday – and the other 34. One is pure vertigo with the ball and the other is unstoppable in the vicinity of the basket. Apparently, and only apparently, they have nothing to do with it. However, it is that point guard-pivot pairing that any coach would like to have and the great challenge facing Unicaja in the quarterfinals for the Endesa League title: stop the lethal duo of Lenovo Tenerife.
The Los Guindos team faces from this Sunday one of the most exciting challenges of the season. After four years, the compositor team returns to an ACB tie. However, it will not be an easy return. Unicaja does it with what has been one of their greatest executioners in recent years and at the same time with that rival they beat in February to lift the Copa del Rey title to the skies of Badalona. However, now it is a totally different competition. Ibon Navarro’s men will have three games, if necessary, to look for the two wins in the tie that will allow them to play a hypothetical semifinal against the winner of Barça-Valencia Basket.
Now, the big unknown is another. How does the Marcelinho-Shermadini couple stop? Alberto Diaz He defined it this Thursday perfectly. «Half the League and half Europe ask the same thing. Marcelinho is a player who has shown talent and quality. We have our weapons, but we will do everything so that he has the least possible impact on the game. All teams have plans for all players. Yes, it is true that the pick and roll with Shermadini is something that worries us, without removing Jaime, Bruno or Bolmaro, but is the most unbalancing duo in the Endesa League».
It is not a duo that proliferates in modern basketball. Despite the fact that Tenerife has been implementing exterior, physical and impudence success in recent years one against one, the Brazilian and the Georgian continue to be the central axis of the island attack. Because the quality is still there and because they find the best director from the bench in Txus Vidorreta. Together they have added 26.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7 assists and a PIR of 31.6 this season in the Endesa League.
Ibon Navarro and the solution
In addition, there have been two players that Unicaja has not been able to stop. From the 20/21 season until that clash in January 2023, taking into account only the Endesa League, the Brazilian has averaged 12.2 points, 7 assists and a PIR of 15.6 against the compositors. And be careful with the Georgian’s numbers: 21.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and a PIR of 29.4!! However, it arrived last Sunday and the point guard recorded 8 points, 7 assists and 4 PIR, and his teammate 8 points, 4 rebounds and 6 PIR. His worst matches against Malaga since 2020. Chance? Now here near.
Ibon Navarro conscientiously prepared the game with a key movement: the pairing of Yankuba Sima with Shermadini. He blocked his deadly right hook, took him out of the zone and managed to impose his physique. Nor was the work of the compositor point guards less important to pursue the Brazilian in each block. Because it is not that the figures show the lower performance, it is that the network of aids and defensive changes that stopped the insular offensive is the first stone on which the Los Guindos team must build if they want to stop the “most destabilizing duo in the League.”
There is only one path and to reach a good port, it is necessary to repeat the work. An ACB play-off deserves it well and end a season that is already history in Los Guindos in style.