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EuroLeague Diaries: Real Madrid continues tradition of playing teenagers; Daryl Macon Jr. destroys reigning champions Efes

Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

Without further ado, let’s jump to Day 2 of the EuroLeague Round 6, which included several huge individual performances and some close-fought battles.

Real Madrid, Pablo Laso continue tradition of giving pt to young players

Real Madrid had a rich history of allowing young players to shine in the EuroLeague, from Luka Doncic to Usman Garuba, with both being in the NBA this season.

The previous week, teenager Eli Ndiaye made his EuroLeague debut, securing his first basket in the competition. Ndiaye remained on the floor for six minutes, as the “Whites” prevailed over Fenerbahce.

Now, Ndiaye registered his second appearance, remaining in the game for almost five minutes. Real Madrid secured its first road win to improve to 5-1, getting closer to rivals FC Barcelona.

Ndiaye grew up in Madrid and became a prominent member of the Real Madrid B. He won the 2021 EuroLeague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament with Real.

He was also named the Finals MVP, as he put up an astonishing series of performances in Valencia. Real promoted him to the first team this season, after averaging 10.9 points in the Spanish giant’s second team.

Real has five players in its roster born after 2003 in Eli Ndiaye, Urban Klavzar, Juan Nunez, Sediq Garuba and Tristan Vukcevic, who made his EuroLeague debut last season.

EuroLeague rookie Daryl Macon Jr. records career-night vs. reigning champions

Daryl Macon Jr. is the brightest spot of Panathinaikos mediocre start in the EuroLeague. The rookie erupted for 34 points on Wednesday night to lead the “Greens” to a huge victory over reigning champions Anadolu Efes.

Macon set a club record with nine makes from beyond the arc in just his sixth EuroLeague game. Macon joined the Greek giants during this past summer, and he immediately became the starting point-guard.

The previous record for a Panathinaikos player was eight threes made by Tyrese Rice in December 2019. Macon was also just one triple away of tying the EuroLeague single-game record, which is shared by ten players. 

Maycon came to Greece last season, signing with AEK Athens and led the league in scoring, averaging 18.2 points per contest.

“These are probably one of the best sets of fans I’ve ever experienced. It was an unbelievable experience tonight. All credit to my teammates, without them I couldn’t have had a night like this.

As long as we continue to stay together and learn from it and realize who we really are, we’ll be okay. [Playing at OAKA] is unbelievable,” Maycon said on his amazing performance.

Thomas Heurtel having a great start in Madrid

Thomas Heurtel had a tough pair of seasons the last two years, as he was limited to just 3 EuroLeage games, because of injury and COVID-19 during the 2019-20 season.

He came back next year with the hope of returning to form; however, he became a free agent mid-season, after registering 12 games with the Catalans.

After an eventful “split” with FC Barcelona, Heurtel returned to his home country and played for LDLC ASVEL. During the past summer, he joined Real on a one-year deal.

Since the start of the season, Heurtel seems to be back to his best form, as he led the “Whites” to their fourth consecutive win in the EuroLeague on Wednesday night.

He finished the game with 15 points, six assists, two steals, three rebounds, just one turnover and a game-high 22 in PIR, helping Real remain undefeated against Zenit in four contests.

“We played a great second half. I think our first half was so-so. I think we came out with a good mentality; we won the second half and the game, which was the most important for us.

I think we stopped their main players. They scored some points, but I think we did a good job tonight. We have a really tough week here in Russia and need to keep going,” Heurtel said after the game.

Elie Ekobo, ASVEL prevail in the clutch

Ellie Ekobo seems to be heading for the “unofficial” rookie of the year award this season in the EuroLeague, as ASVEL continued its incredible run at the start of the season with a home win over CSKA.

The former Suns’ point guard was held to just two points in the first 20 minutes. He woke up in the second half, when he added 12 points including eight in the final six minutes of the game.

He also grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists for the French club in a game that promising prospect Victor Wembanyama made his EuroLeague debut.

“We fought, we made it tough on them. Everybody was involved tonight. We had a good effort defensively, took great rebounds, we pushed the ball and we played as a team offensively.

We had the open looks and this is the team win we need every week,” the fourth-leading scorer in the league Ellie Ekobo said on his team’s huge win Wednesday.

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