Real Madrid have the chance to further cement their legendary status as Europe’s most successful club.
Pablo Laso’s side traveled to the final EuroLeague match, where they will face Anadolu Efes Istanbul, after beating FC Barcelona in the Final Four semi-finals, just as Carlo Ancelotti’s football team resisted Manchester City and will oppose Liverpool. in Paris on May 28.
It’s the fifth time in the club’s history that Real Madrid’s representatives in both sports have reached the final in the same season, something no other club has ever achieved.
The first time this happened was in 1962 when the football team played against Benfica and the basketball team played against Dinamo Tbilisi. Two years later, Madrid repeated the feat – facing Inter Milan in football and Spartak Brno in basketball, which gave the basketball section the first of ten EuroLeague trophies.
In the 2013-14 campaign, Los Blancos lifted their tenth UEFA Champions League trophy in Lisbon, while the Laso-coached side reached the EuroLeague final against Maccabi Tel Aviv in Milan. Four years later, in 2018, Real Madrid were crowned European champions in both sports after beating Liverpool in Kyiv and Fenerbahce in Belgrade respectively.
It remains to be seen whether the same scenario will repeat itself. In any case, the Real Madrid trophy showcase displays 13 continental trophies in football and another 10 in basketball. As luck would have it, this year Belgrade is hosting the Final Four after four years.
Seven players currently on the squad roster were present in 2018 – Sergio Llull, Rudy Fernandez, Walter Tavares, Fabien Causeur, Anthony Randolph, Trey Thompkins and Jeffery Taylor.
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The odds are good for the Spanish powerhouse, and that’s something neither the players nor Pablo Laso will deny ahead of Saturday’s title game against Anadolu Efes. The similarities with what happened in 2018 are everywhere, and the Basque tactician points them out for BasketNews.
“The pitch, the dressing room, a Turkish rival. There are a lot of them. Hopefully I’ll see more of those similarities tomorrow,” he said with a laugh in the mixed zone at Stark Arena during the conference. team press releases.
Walter Tavares signed with Real Madrid in November 2017, following his move to the G League. Seven months later, the Cape Verdean big man was crowned EuroLeague champion for the first time. From that momentous season, Tavares became one of the most dominant centers in Europe.
“There are a lot of great memories. Belgrade will always be in my heart because it was my first EuroLeague title. It’s a special arena,” he recalled while speaking to BasketNews.
Another surprising similarity to 2018 is Madrid’s trajectory through the season. The team from the Spanish capital finished 5th in the 2018 regular season before knocking out Panathinaikos in the playoffs.
This season, February and March have been a real ordeal for the ten-time champions. A losing streak threatened to jeopardize and derail the entire campaign as Real picked up only two wins in the last ten games of the regular season. Once again the team regrouped in time for a 3-0 sweep against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
“Ups and downs always make you strong,” Tavares argues.
“If they don’t, you’re going to lose everything. They help us stay focused and try to improve every day.”
Rudy Fernandez, now 37, won his second EuroLeague trophy in 2018. The veteran striker told BasketNews that everyone is excited after a tough season with many ups and downs.
“We had a bad race, but in the end we managed to bounce back at the right time. Having come to this point, I think we have an opportunity to be able to lift the title, and we have to take advantage of it”, he adds.
Fernandez, who tops the shortlist of players to have won a World Championship, EuroBasket, EuroLeague and EuroCup, is obviously very happy to return to Belgrade.
“I hope what happened then will happen again tomorrow,” Fernandez said. “It was my second EuroLeague, I was able to enjoy it with my family.”
However, another detail marked him forever.
“I really remember it as Luka Doncic’s moment, the Final Four being basically his farewell to the team before he became a star at world level,” added Fernandez.
Credit: AFP – Scanpix
Alberto Abalde was just 22 years old and playing for Valencia when his current side won their last title. The Spanish goalkeeper expects a very difficult match.
“It’s really good to be here,” he says of the Serbian capital. “Personally, I didn’t take part in this final, but for all the players and coaches who were here, a lot of good memories come to mind.”
Abalde, who joined Real Madrid in 2020, added: “All the titles the club has won indicate that winning for Real Madrid is something special. For me, it’s a dream to win the EuroLeague.”
The Spain international hopes the club can win titles both on and off the pitch.
“I hope we win them all. But we have to work to achieve it.”
Guerschon Yabusele is a newcomer who has adopted the club’s philosophy and mentality. The former Boston Celtics striker describes his experience with Real Madrid as amazing.
“As the coaches said at a press conference, it’s the biggest club in Europe,” he added.
“Everything about this organization is amazing. When you come to Madrid you really understand and see that you have a chance to win a European trophy. That’s why guys like us give everything on the pitch.”
Yabusele, who signed a multi-year extension with Madrid until 2025, knows firsthand that every player who joins the club has to fight every day to keep their place.
“It’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he says.
“Not everyone can sign with Madrid. Being part of this history, this organization and this team has been an incredible journey for me. I’m just content, happy and grateful for that.”
For his fifth EuroLeague league game (a record he shares with Sergio Llull and Rudy Fernandez), Pablo Laso points out that he and Real Madrid FC manager Carlo Ancelotti go through the same process.
“I think it’s a point of pride for a club like Real Madrid to win two European cups. It speaks very well of the work of the coach, the players and the club. It’s very important to understand that and to accept it, but we want Suite.
If you ask Carlo Ancelotti, he thinks of winning the final like I think of tomorrow. That’s the only way to look at it,” he notes.
Rudy Fernandez believes playing two finals in seven days is a sign of Real Madrid’s greatness.
“When a lot of people write off the club and think they can’t reach big finals, we always find a way to prove them wrong,” he insists.
“At the end of the day, I think the badge makes us fight to the end in both sports.”
On several occasions, the football team visited their basketball peers and vice versa. Rudy himself is a football enthusiast and follower.
“Of course we have contact with some of the players in the football team. The club tries to be a big family, and that’s why the titles come. We are in contact with them, and they know that we let’s follow what they are. They follow basketball a lot too, ”he underlines.
The last word belongs to Pablo Laso.
“Beyond victory, the prevailing feeling is that your team gives everything. It’s the only way for fans to be proud of their team,” said the two-time EuroLeague winner.
“I always say this – everyone plays to win. But the way to victory starts with hard work. It all starts at the start of the season and you have to have a lot of faith in what your team can do.”