Real Madrid scraped by FC Barcelona in the semifinals despite losing starting point guard Nigel Williams-Goss to injury. Now Coach Pablo Laso must add a player to the roster for Saturday night’s main event.
Coach Laso’s point guard dilemma
We’ll never know exactly what Laso’s plans for the point guard role were at the Final Four because it all changed when Williams-Goss suffered an injury on the team’s first possession. He was helped off the court after play stopped through a foul at the other end and shortly thereafter was taken to the locker room.
“Nigel is a player who was providing us with a lot of consistency. He played the point guard position and set the tone in defense, he was running the offense well, and losing him is really bad luck,” Laso said on Friday. “It’s a setback, but that’s all, we cannot do anything. We have to make up for that situation somehow, the best we can.”
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Interview: Coach Ergin Ataman
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Efes players celebrate at the press conference!
Vasilije Micic | Final Four MVP | Turkish Airlines EuroLeague
Real Madrid vs Anadolu Efes Istanbul | Championship Game | Highlights
Championship Game post-game quotes: Tibor Pleiss, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
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Championship Game post-game quotes: Shane Larkin, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Championship Game post-game quotes: Elijah Bryant, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Spalding Dunk of the Night: Singleton dunks off a steal!
7DAYS Magic Moment of the Night: Micic finds Pleiss!
Anadolu Efes Istanbul celebrates title!
MVP on court interview: Vasilije Micic, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Championship Game post-game quotes: Adam Hanga, Real Madrid
Magic Moment: Micic finds Pleiss
Magic Moment: Poirier stops Pleiss!
Magic Moment: Singleton dunks off a steal!
Magic Moment: Tavares, off the glass!
Magic Moment: Larkin's acrobatic basket
Magic Moment: Fernandez to Poirier for an alley-oop slam
Magic Moment: Singleton's put-back dunk!
Magic Moment: Tavares throws it down
Championship Game Preview
One on One with Darko Peric: Shane Larkin, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
One on One with Darko Peric: Walter Tavares, Real Madrid
Lookback: Past thrillers between Real and Efes
Championship Game pre-game quotes: Walter Tavares, Real Madrid
Championship Game pre-game quotes: Adam Hanga, Real Madrid
Championship Game pre-game quotes: Chris Singleton, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Championship Game pre-game quotes: Tibor Pleiss, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Micic's shot as seen from the Efes bench
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Post-game quotes: Vincent Poirier, Real Madrid
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Magic Moment: Poirier's block off the glass!
Magic Moment: Mirotic finds Davies!
Magic Moment: Poirier dunks again!
Magic Moment: Causeur to Poirier for two-handed slam
Magic Moment: Llull puts Real ahead!
Magic Moment: Davies dunks in traffic!,
Magic Moment: Llull to Tavares for alley-oop slam
Magic Moment: Yabusele throws it down
Post-game quotes: Bryant Dunston, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Olympiacos Piraeus vs Anadolu Efes Istanbul | Semifinal | Highlights
Post-game quotes: Elijah Bryant, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Magic Moment: MICIC WINS IT!
Magic Moment: Martin ties the game
Magic Moment: Singleton's one-handed slam!
Magic Moment: Dorsey beats the third quarter buzzer
Real solved the matter the best it could in the semifinal with Sergio Llull playing 29:10 minutes and contributing 15 points and 3 assists. Adam Hanga and Alberto Abalde, who are both listed as forwards on the Real roster, contributed minutes and fine plays at the ‘1’ as well. Hanga tied Llull for the team lead with 3 assists and also scored 4 points in 14:19. Abalde scored 7 in 12:44.
If the team wants to improve its playmaking after dishing just 14 assists – 4.2 below its full season average – in the semifinal, it could call upon one of its two point guards who did not dress on Friday. Veteran Thomas Heurtel has been inactive since early April and teenager Juan Nunez has appeared in only 10 games all season.
Perhaps the biggest issue for the Real backcourt in the championship game will be on defense against Anadolu Efes Istanbul’s All-EuroLeague guards Shane Larkin and Vasa Micic. Hanga is a former EuroLeague Best Defender and may have the speed and the length to stick with Efes’s stars, but without Williams-Goss, perhaps Llull is the only other player with experience guarding an ace playmaker.
In theory, Heurtel could help fill that role. When asked on Friday about that possibility, Laso answered briefly that it was possible.
The direction Laso takes with Williams-Goss’s roster spot and how to defend against Larkin and Micic will surely have a major impact on the championship game.