Walter Tavares Real Madrid FC Barcelona
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

Walter Tavares was named the MVP after an outstanding series.

Real Madrid won one of their most hard fought titles after a tough season. Few people expected back in March that the white team could reach the Euroleague finals and win the Spanish league. To make things harder, their coach Pablo Laso sufferered a stroke a few weeks ago and was not be able to lead the team in the last part of the season.

But Real Madrid is a different team, that is for sure. A team full of stars who are not afraid to fight back when things go south. And this is exactly what happened in the finals against Barcelona. The Catalonian team had won most of the matches during the regular season, both in the national league and the Euroleague as well, but when things matteres most it was Real Madrid who prevailed.

It was a team effort, no doubt, but a few names have to be mentioned. Gabriel Deck, who came back to Spain after a few months in the NBA, struggled for most of the season to get back in shape, to regain the confidence he lost while in the US. Sergio Llull and Rudy Fernández, eternal leaders of the team, gave the strength and support when it was most needed. Chus Mateo, who had the difficult task to replace Laso at the most critical part of the season, proved that he can lead any team in Europe, and does not have to be the assistant of anyone else. And above all, Walter Tavares, who was unstoppable during the finals, grabbing rebound after rebound, scoring on the paint, and being a force of nature on defense, not only blocking shots, but changing the whole Barcelona´s offence during the four games when he was on the court.

Barcelona, on the other hand, struggled in every game. One could say that this was to be expected after how difficult it was for them to beat Joventut in the semifinals, regardless of how much the “Penya” improved this season. It was like a broken team. The defeat in the Euroleague semifinals against Real Madrid was probably too much for them, since the European crown was their main goal for the season. Only Mirotic, probably the best player in Europe, was a decent match for the “white” players. It was as if the Catalonian players were out of stamina at the end of the season, tired mentally and phisically when it was the time to be strong and determined. You can get an idea of the difference in the physicality displayed by both team by just looking at the rebounds grabbed by each team. This aspect was an absolute disaster for Barcelona.

All in all, the four games of the series were enough to prove the huge gap between both teams at this point. The final record, 3-1 for Real Madrid, was more than enough to realise that Barcelona was not the rival you could have expected a few months ago. Tavares, dominant throughtout the 4 games, was crowned as the MVP of the finals, and proved that the main task of Barcelona for the next season is to find an antidote for him. Maybe Vesely?