Champions League Group L ceased to interest a week ago. Bilbao Basket’s stumble in Turkey against Darussafaka and UCAM Murcia’s blow on their court against champions Tenerife put everyone in their place: the islanders as leaders, as expected, and the university qualified for the quarterfinals below. Miribilla had been waiting for a long time for Sito Alonso to visit. Firstly, for thinking that the last day would be the last to distribute tickets for the next phase. And, yet again, for once again charging the price of the coach, who has become the figure most contested by Biscay fans. If on the previous visit he made it clear that he would not allow more peseteros to scream, this time the choruses were more notable and some even threatened to play false notes.
In addition to that unpleasant noise, it was worth climbing to the top of Bilbao to watch a clash without qualification crumbs. Well, four thousand that went there. The party was a turret. Surne tried to say goodbye to the BCL with sweetness, but he failed and in the end it is clear that he watched those 40 minutes knowing they were inconsequential. Hakanson missed due to muscle discomfort, to be at his best on Sunday, in the Vitória derby, and in the visiting team McFadden, Anderson and a Rojas caused a defeat that also usually raises the indignation of the Biscay enclosure. The great protagonists needed to rest and so it happened. Pustovyi ended up coming to the attention of massage therapists due to problems with his lower back.
While neither of them played anything, Murcia took it more seriously. It was curious what happened to both teams this year: a defeat in the Liga de Bilbao, the return of university students’ currency in Europe and this interest-free appointment. It was a balanced fight, with very little offensive success, with tests on both sides and many rotations. Just Tryce’s individual quality took the yawn out of the night. Bilbao set the BCL as their goal and dream to go through phases, as permanence is in their pocket, but the poor management of the finals against Tenerife and Darussafaka left them in ruins.
Smith had to play a minute again due to Hakanson’s absence and there was also good reason on court for Ubal, who did not have as many urgent needs as he had on other afternoons. The confrontation lacked tension, but the people were on their feet. Diop came out and got the usual whistles. Tsalmpouris took it seriously, continuing to contribute little things to both rims. Sulejmanovic doesn’t understand pachangas and the referees whistled him for a very strange foul on a setback. They punished him with a non-existent attack staff and a technique landed on him for protesting. At halftime, both teams had 37 percent shooting accuracy. Terrible.
Return by 8-0 in the locker room, with five points from Radicevic (36-35), led the confrontation in an equality dynamic that did not stop even the following 0-6 with triples from Jelínek and Bellas (36-42) . The latter doesn’t go around in half measures when it comes to increasing hardness from behind. Sule committed the fifth foul with seven minutes remaining. Reyes smashed a break to make it 55-50 and Sito stopped the action with a timeout. The house lead even increased to 7, with a layup by Tsalmporis. The attacks were like chewing cement. They went one on one of the bases, but there were almost no cuts or blocks to find the free striker or play inside. Jelínek made the winning triple 21 seconds from the end (65-69) and put his hand to his ear, the typical sign of rebuke to people. UCAM managed the climax much better. Then Alonso missed a triple. In the middle of those two hours of smoothness, another touch of tension: the usual endgame music was delayed for a few moments and a chorus against Sito was heard very clearly. “I have love for Bilbao Basket, love for the managers who have been with me and love for the fans who fought so hard when I was here. I have nothing more to say, I’m focused on the game”, retreated the coach this time. When it’s time to lower the curtain, Bilbao can’t stop thinking that they don’t want to lose control of this cool tournament.
Ponsarnau: “We want to play for the BCL again”
Ponsarnau highlighted after playing his last game of the season in the Champions League his intention to “play again in the BCL” next season. “We showed that we are a team and a club that can compete in this competition and, above all, an audience that deserves it”, underlined the coach of the ‘men in black’ in his assessment of the match, aware that to reach this they will have to complete an Endesa League “in the best possible way”.
“We’ll see if we can do it because that way we’ll also get greater respect in the competition and that in arbitrations like today’s and others of this stage we don’t feel so disadvantaged”, he stressed. About the match, he admitted that the rival “found a way to add points”, while his team “didn’t make the best decisions”.
“There is a disappointment not to have won, but it has been good exercise for the next game. The players are in rhythm”, pointed out Ponsarnau, who regretted the injury of Hakanson, who is out of this game due to muscle problems. “We’ll see if he’s available for the next game -the Basque derby on Sunday in Vitoria against Cazoo Baskonia-. Although what worries me the most, whether he is available or not, is that he doesn’t pick up a competitive pace”, he concluded about the best player on his team this season and who previously suffered physical problems that kept him away or prevented him from playing. .
Website: “Total respect for Bilbao”
Sito Alonso admitted after the victory that he ended up “happier with the work” of his players” than with the victory in an inconsequential game. “First of all, congratulations to Bilbao Basket because they did a very good BCL and apart from Tenerife, that has been much better, any of the other three teams can qualify”, said the coach of the Murcian team about the final decision of Group L.
For the visiting coach, “the most negative” of the match were Pustovyi’s physical problems. “He has a knock in the lumbar region, which is where he suffers, and it is a serious doubt for the match against Granada”, revealed Alonso, who gave a rest to important players of Liga Endesa in Bilbao before the next game in the rotation of the Endesa League.
The former coach of Bilbao Basket was also asked about his last appearance in the Miribilla press room last January, when he was very irritated by the chants of ‘pesetero’ that some local fans dedicated to him. “Total respect. I have always said the same thing, although I have different people close to me who do not understand why I say this, ”calmed Alonso.