The Spanish Liga Endesa started with wins by Real Madrid and Barcelona, and an outstanding performance by Laurynas Birutis.
Herbalife Gran Canaria 107 – 102 RETAbet Bilbao Basket
It was a high-scoring game to start the new season in Spain. Matt Costello paced the winners with 19 points and 5 rebounds, while Amedeo Della Valle scored 18, same as Stan Okoye, looking to become the great player he was a couple of years ago playing under coach Fisac in Zaragoza. Ludde Hakanson did a great job by scoring 22 points, along with Ondrej Balvin, who led the boards with 18 points and 9 rebounds, but it was not enough to beat Gran Canaria at home.
Acunsa GBC 70 – 86 Real Madrid
Newcomer GBC had a tough start against the Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid. The local team managed to stay in the game until the third quarter, when the visitors got a comfortable lead. Argentinian point guard Faggiano scored 13 points, while veteran Magarity added 9 points and 5 rebounds. On the winning side, a number of players scored over 10 points, with captain Sergio Llull leading the way with 18 points.
Movistar Estudiantes 84 – 88 BAXI Manresa
A close game was played in Madrid, which was decided thanks to a clutch basket by veteran Rafa Martínez, who led the visiting team with 16 points. Youngster Guillen Jou also added 16 points, plus 6 rebounds. For Estudiantes, young prospect Dovydas Giedraitis scored 17 points in the losing effort.
MoraBanc Andorra 84 – 66 UCAM Murcia
Easy game for Andorra, one of the most surprising teams in the league in the last season. Clevin Hannah is still proving to be a leader with 16 points and 9 assists, while newcomer Malik Dime added 16 points too. For the visiting side, only Conner Frankamp and Sadiel Rojas managed to match the level of Andorra, with 19 and 10 respectively.
TD Systems Baskonia 76 – 73 Valencia Basket
ACB champion Baskonia started the season with a tough win over one of the best rosters in the league, Valencia. Finals MVP Luca Vildoza again led the Basque team with 21 points, while Nigerian center Tonye Jekiri, new addition coming from ASVEL, added 12 points and 6 rebounds. For Valencia, only Van Rossom and Dubljevic could score over 10 points. None of the new signings had a great night.
Barcelona 89 – 86 Hereda San Pablo Burgos
Not an easy game for Barcelona, probably the best roster in the league by far this year with the single addition of Greek point guard Calathes. Nikola Mirotic, Pierre Oriola and Alex Abrines scored over 20 points each to lead the local team. Vitor Benite and Ken Horton scored 18 and 17 respectively in a losing effort. Barcelona managed to grab 40 rebounds, while Burgos barely reached 20, so it was impossible to beat a powerful team this way.
Monbus Obradoiro 101 – 82 Urbas Fuenlabrada
Great debut for Laurynas Birutis, the Lithuanian center that just arrived to Obradoiro, who scored 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, just enough to be crowned MVP of the first round. Great things are expected from this young player this year. Mike Daum and Kassius Robertson also helped with 14 points each. For Fuenlabrada, Obi Emegano scored 20 points, while Leo Meindl added 18 and 6 rebounds.
Iberostar Tenerife 91 – 86 Casademont Zaragoza
A beautiful game was played in Tenerife, which was postponed due to a few players in the local team being infected by Covid-19. It will be interesting to see how this will be handled once European competitions kick-off. Bruno Fitipaldo scored 23 points, while veterans Huertas and Shermadini added 17 points each. On the other hand, Zaragoza had DJ Seeley and Dylan Ennis score 15 points each, while Hlinason added 14 and 7 rebounds.
Joventut Badalona 81 -73 Unicaja Málaga
An interesting match was played in Badalona, with Croatian center Ante Tomic, new addition this year, scoring 17 points and grabbing 7 rebounds, and fellow Simon Birgander adding 13 points and 7 rebounds. The local centers put a great effort to overcome Unicaja by 24 rebounds, which helped greatly to get the win. Bouteille’s scoring performance with 15 points for Unicaja were not enough. Unicaja showed the same lack of will to win as in pre-season games, in which they struggled against competitive teams. It will be a tough year for them if they do not play as a team.
This year, the Spanish competition features 19 teams. Hence, Coosur Real Betis did not play this round.