The ACB Semifinals will take place on Sunday and the participants are FC Barcelona, Baskonia, Valencia and San Pablo Burgos. Yesterday, we witnessed at a big surprise, as Real Madrid didn’t qualify to the ACB Semifinals for the first time since 2008. Los Blancos won the last two ACB titles but now, we will have a new champion, thanks to their lack of concentration in the games against San Pablo Burgos and MoraBanc Andorra. My focus will be on the game between Valencia and Baskonia, two teams that played great basketball through the Final Stage. Let’s see who has the first chance to win here.
Valencia finished first in the group with Real Madrid, San Pablo Burgos, MoraBanc Andorra, Zaragoza and Gran Canaria with only one defeat and 4 wins. The only defeat came against Real Madrid 95-90. Their offensive game worked very well, averaging 92 points per game, including 97 in the decisive game against Gran Canaria in the last game. 10 players were used in the game with at least 13 minutes on the floor each, which is a great weapon that will surely help against Baskonia. Jordan Loyd and Mike Tobey were the top performers for Valencia in the group, but the other players also had some nice performances during those 5 games from the group stage. Against Gran Canaria, Loyd scored 26 points and completed 3 assists, while Tobey had 18 points and 11 rebounds. A major doubt for Valencia is Alberto Abalde, who suffered an injury in the game against San Pablo Burgos and prevented him to play against Gran Canaria.
After a one-year break, Baskonia is back in the ACB Semifinals with big ambitions and desire. They finished second in a group with Barcelona, Unicaja Malaga, Joventut Badalona, Iberostar Tenerife and RetaBet Bilbao. They had 2 defeats against Barcelona and Joventut, in the last round, and 3 wins, including a decisive one in overtime against Unicaja 87-86. In the game against Joventut, the usual starters were given fewer minutes on the court, while Shavon Shields, a very important piece in the team, played only 2 minutes in order to be rested against Valencia. The main contributor of the game was Achille Polonara who ended with 18 points and 7 rebounds. Their defensive game worked well in these 5 games, allowing opponents to score only 73.8 points per game, in regular time, not including the overtime against Unicaja.
It will be a tough match for both teams and surely one to be watched. The first thing that came in my mind is the extra day-off that Baskonia had, which may weight enough in this period. Also, the injury of Valencia’s Abalde is very important because he was prolific during the group stage and scored lots of points. My pick will go with Baskonia, only because they had another day to rest and the regular starters played fewer minutes in the last game against Joventut.
Bogdan Vasile Tirc