It started almost as a joke. In Spanish, 'mandarina' was a term for a tough shot that was generally taken with the shot clock running down to avoid a turnover. Only rarely would it go in. Spanish journalist Andres Montes, who passed away in 2009, was the first to use the term regularly. Real Madrid star Sergio Llull changed its meaning forever by making many of those shots, probably more often than any other player in basketball history.
Llull has made so many that now every time he makes a difficult shot at any point during the game, people call it a 'mandarina'. His last such achievement, a go-ahead rainbow jumper over Olympiacos Piraeus center Moustapha Fall that lifted Real to its 11th Turkish Airlines EuroLeague title, can hardly be considered a 'mandarina' but still, you will see the term in newspapers, social media and everywhere else. Llull has made so many amazing shots the 'mandarina' is now his signature shot.
The original 'mandarina' came on February 25, 2010. Llull was in his third season with the club and buried an off-balance, acrobatic three-pointer that allowed Real to earn the tie-break advantage against Montepaschi Siena in that year's Top 16 stage. Indeed, that shot eventually took Real to the playoffs and it was the first of the many incredible shots Llull would make over the years, none bigger than the EuroLeague-winning one against Olympiacos. That shot allowed Llull to win his third EuroLeague crown.
One of the greats of his generation, Llull was the 2016-17 EuroLeague MVP and ranks fifth all-time in scoring (3,691 points) and sixth in assists (1,329). To honor Llull's recent heroics, let us celebrate his EuroLeague 'mandarinas'. In this video, you will find some of Llull's impossible catch-and-shoot jumpers, prayers from beyond midcourt and game-winners because when it comes to Llull, there are plenty of 'mandarinas' to choose from.