Sunday, December 10, 2023

Unicaja: week of reflection

Euphoria is a feeling that can go from 0 to 100 in seconds. The problem is when it goes from 100 to 0 and everything that generates around it. And in that process they seem to be he Unicaja and his hobby after overwhelming Tenerife and losing consecutively in 5 days with Casademont Zaragoza and Valencia Basket. Two games that for many have set off alarms and that only deserve a week of reflection… by everyone.

It has not been the best start to the Endesa League. It is true that no one expected defeat in tough lands, much less the loss of identity during those 40 minutes. However, it had to be clear that the toll of playing the entire preseason without point guards and centers, sooner or later, had to come. Earlier than expected? Maybe, but no one forgets to play basketball overnight.

For now, Ibon Navarro has several days to fulfill one of his great wishes: «The team needed to train, not rest. “We are out of shape, not tired.” Until next Saturday he does not travel to Gran Canaria, so he has very important training to turn the situation around…on a track that, precisely, has never brought back great memories for the composer group.

Yankuba Sima, against Valencia Basket. ACBPHOTO/M.WELL

The focus, among many other places, will be on David Kravish and Yankuba Sima. The team needs its two centers in the best possible condition. It was evident against Valencia Basket, but the coach also warned it. Using the two ‘5’ is already the price to pay for the competition rhythm of the interiors to return sooner. Even if it is at the cost of taking minutes away from other players who may be more fit in this league start, but it is absolutely necessary.

Kravish and Sima’s physical condition is a concern. Yes, but also the sensations of play that Unicaja has offered. It is clear that the two defeats have little to do with each other. The cajista team did not defend against Casademont Zaragoza – the third worst defense of the ‘Ibon Navarro era’ – and against Valencia Basket they collapsed against the physical Taronja. What was good in Prince Felipe – 92 points in attack – fell due to his own weight in Carpena – “only” 76 -.

Players step forward

Neither has the best version of any of the players been seen in the three games. Not even Kendrick Perry, leading the team in scoring, has been able to close this first week with extraordinary feelings. Kameron Taylor is still in the process of adaptation or the centers themselves are in the process of finding themselves again, but the truth is that everyone can – and must – take a step forward to put the team at the highest level. And it is a process that they know.

Kendrick Perry has been Unicaja’s offensive leader. ACBPHOTO/M.WELL

Blind trust

Despite everything, they are still the Cup champions and, even more important, the players who returned the passion for basketball to Malaga. Ibon Navarro said it very clearly: «Things are going to happen, good and bad, depending on where it takes you and if you are a little lucky, we manage to be up there. The expectations on us cannot fall on victories and titles. “We would be prisoners of our past.” AND We all have to comply so that this is just a blip., being very aware that now Gran Canaria, Joventut and Baskonia are coming. Almost nothing.


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