Jayson Granger came through with a big second half to help Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz to its first win of the season – and his first with the club in nearly three years.
Granger banished ghosts with first Baskonia home win in three years
The last few years have been tough for Jayson Granger.
After spending the first five seasons of his EuroLeague career as an almost-constant presence on the court, the Uruguayan point guard was forced to miss the second half of the 2018-19 season with Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz to undergo surgery on a long-standing ankle problem.
With his fitness seemingly restored following that operation, Granger headed into the 2019-20 season with optimism that he could play a big role in Baskonia’s challenge. Those hopes lasted less than 2 minutes, however, as he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in his team’s first Spanish league game of the new season, forcing him to the sidelines for six months. And when he was ready to return, basketball was not – the season had been cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, further delaying Granger’s hopes of a comeback to EuroLeague courts.
He was then offered a chance for a fresh start by ALBA Berlin for the 2020-21 season and put in some strong performances while also playing a mentoring role on a young and inexperienced team. That year with ALBA was enough to convince Baskonia to give him another chance to return to his adopted Spain, and so Granger headed back to Vitoria-Gasteiz for the second time this summer – determined to banish the ghosts of the injuries that ruined his previous spell with the club.
In the second half of Tuesday’s victory hard-fought battle Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, Granger was finally able to again savor the feeling he has been waiting for: playing a key role in a big EuroLeague home win at Buesa Arena.
After failing to score before the break, Granger came out of the locker room with a bang by netting a three-pointer on Baskonia’s first possession. A minute later he added another triple and then got some rest before starting the fourth quarter with a pair of tough inside baskets to keep his team narrowly ahead in a very close battle.
As the game went down to the wire, there was no doubt that Granger would be on the court to lead from the front. And in the last minute, he made a decisive contribution. With the game tied 79-79 and 23 seconds on the clock, Rokas Giedraitis missed a three-pointer but Granger was there to grab the rebound, draw a foul and convert the free throws which proved enough to win the game when Ioannis Papapetrou missed a three-point attempt on the final buzzer a few seconds later.
Granger finished with 12 points – all in the second half – along with 9 assists, 3 offensive rebounds and 1 steal for a PIR of 22 – his highest in Baskonia colors since March 2018. It was also the first time he was able to celebrate a Baskonia EuroLeague home victory since a 76-73 triumph over CSKA Moscow on December 7, 2018, nearly three years ago. If he repeats the levels he reached on Tuesday night, the next one will come a whole lot more quickly.