As an appetizer, the main course. Basketball opens the official season this Saturday with a classic: Barcelona-Real Madrid in the semifinals of the Super Cup held in Murcia (6:30 p.m., Movistar), with the host against Unicaja as the second date of the tournament (9:30 p.m.; the final , Sunday at 7:00 p.m.). To begin with, the duel that has been repeated in the last four finals, all four won by the whites, who also beat Baskonia in the previous one, and have accumulated five titles in a row in this competition.
ACB Super Cup – semi-final – matchday 1
ACB Super Cup – semi-final – matchday 1
The classic gets up early this time with many new faces in the azulgrana and a Madrid team that follows in the wake of the previous season, crowned with the Euroleague, with the reinforcement of Argentine point guard Facundo Campazzo. Barça has a new boss on the bench. Roger Grimau replaces Saras Jasikevicius and a fresh wind has entered the Palau. “The change is shocking,” sums up forward Álex Abrines about a new way of doing things both in the locker room and on the board. Grimau was a Barça player for eight years, between 2003 and 2011, the captain who lifted Barcelona’s last Euroleague, in 2010, and until this summer he led the reserve team. He has now taken the reins of the first team and, apparently far from the whip of Saras, is committed to a happier, less rigid basketball with more freedom for the players. “That is the intention. Maybe at first everything is more exaggerated so that the idea sinks in. Then everything has to be polished. There are moments in which you can play in transition and others in which you have to stop,” summarizes Grimau, 45 years old.
The Barça renovation is once again profound. Also goodbye to Mirotic, Higgins, Sanli, Tobey, Kuric and Sergi Martínez. And the door is open to three internationals with Spain – Willy Hernangómez, Joel Parra and Darío Brizuela – and to the mystery of Jabari Parker, the 28-year-old, 2.01m American power forward who was number two in the 2014 draft but who is closing a stage nine years old bouncing around six NBA teams, many physical problems and two years almost without playing. Willy will accompany him in the painting after those two calls to Real Madrid, which ruled out the return of his youth player. “At Barça from day one they have shown me affection and have offered me an opportunity in this new era. I had no doubts. I was looking for a place to be happy, play the sport I love and everything came together. I am 100% with the team and the city,” proclaims the Spanish center.
Alberto Díaz and Campazzo, in a Unicaja-Madrid preparation on September 10. Jorge Zapata (EFE)
At Madrid, Chus Mateo has cleared up the uncertainties of a first year as head coach that resulted in the title of European champion. The coach will manage a shorter squad due to the losses of Williams-Goss, Randolph, Cornelie and Hanga, and only the signing of Campazzo, back at the age of 32 to the white house after his journey through the NBA and the passing season of the Red Star, waiting to see what happens with Usman Garuba. “Of course I would love for Garuba to be with us, how could I not like it, but they are personal decisions. Last year they said that we had no basis and it didn’t go badly at all,” Mateo explained this Friday. “I always try to start from scratch, instill that mentality, the past is the past and now is a new season. We know each other more and that helps,” he added. The youth squad Hugo González travels to Murcia.
Madrid has won nine Super Cups, seven of them with Laso in seven finals. Last year, with Chus Mateo, they beat Barça 89-83. The talisman is Tavares, who since joining the team has not lost a single game in this competition: 10 wins in 10 games.
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