Home News Domestic Leagues Basque cinderella BBB makes the ACB final in a shocker (pics)

Basque cinderella BBB makes the ACB final in a shocker (pics)

In a night to remember, Bizkaia Bilbao Basket beat Real Madrid in Game 4 of ACB semifinals (80-72) after a 16-4 run in the last two minutes. The game was played in front of 8500 fans who made the Arena look a living hell, in all black. This was  definitely the biggest achievement ever for the short living (10 years old) Basque club.

But I wasn’t an easy mission for the Men in Black as Real Madrid started strong, as expected  they showed some pride after the huge loss the took on Tuesday in this same arena. Tomic led his team’s efforts as he made seven points of the starting 2-9 run.  But Bilbao wouldn’t let them take a big lead, so Jackson and Warren helped by the amazing defensive effort by Hervelle were able to cut the difference as the first quarter ended with 19-20.{jathumbnailoff}

Katsikaris’ players started the second quarter better, their offense was more fluid and on top of that a huge and1 action by the Greek Kostas Vasileiadis gave Bilbao the lead for the first time (24-22). Banic stepped up up too, but Madrid was able to stop Bilbao’s attempts to break the game and take a bigger lead, by concentrating on the outside shooting as Vasileiadis ended up with 0/4, Blums 1/3 and Mumbru 1/4. The defense and Ante Tomic helped Real Madrid to take back the lead before halftime (38-41) while at the same time that Bilbao was starting to look nervous because of the big task they had on their hands.

But Katsikaris wouldn’t let his guys to give up, and inspired his team in the locker rooms. Bilbao showed up playing strong defense, and pushing for transition with great ball movement, a game style which suits Jackson more than any other as he is literally unstoppable when he is able to run. But he wasn’t alone, and four points in a row by Mavroeidis gave Bilbao some credit. (48-44). Then both team started to trade both baskets and leads  ending the third quarter with 54-55 for the whites, after the whole arena was complaining about a clear foul Tucker made over Vasileiadis, which should had been called an unsportsmanlike foul.

And then it was time for the last quarter, Bilbao had the crowd on their side, 8500 fans screaming like it was the end of the world, knowing what they could achieve was historic. But Madrid is an experience team when it comes to playing against hot crowds, and Suarez shut them for a second with a huge threepointer to start the fourth. But Bilbao’s key players (Banic, Mumbru, Jackson and Hervelle) kept their team alive. Then we entered the last minute, and the game could go to any of both teams. With 33 seconds to go Bilbao inbounded with just six seconds left on the shot clock. Mumbru gave the ball to Banic, who almost turned it over, but Jackson caught it then found Hervelle who made a miraculous shot over Fischer at buzzer, which was more than half a game for Bilbao. Madrid then trusted Tucker for the quick three, but he missed. The rest is just history: players, supporters, staff….everyone at the arena were ecstatic after making it to the ACB finals for the first time. But the reasons for celebrations didn’t end there as Bilbao will be playing in Euroleague next season.

Before closing I would like to mention Aaron Jackson personally. The guy was the biggest bet of this team this season, they brought him in to replace nine years veteran and Bilbao born Javi Salgado. Jackson struggled a little at the very beginning of the season, and the pressure was all over him when the team lost some games in a row. He kept working hard until he became a key player of this team and one of the most valuable players in the ACB and he was the MVP of last night’s game. After this huge achievement, he posted the following message on his Facebook page which I’d like to share:

“I was loved I was hated, I was to skinny, I was to small, I couldn’t be a playmaker at a high level, I was rushed into the ACB and they said I wasn’t ready, few believed in me and more doubted, so I toast to the people who believed in me, now I’m dreaming with some warriors and we are writing our own history in a city that deserves it, with supporters that come to hell with us… aupa Bilbao we playing for the finals… of the ACB, DO YOU BELIEVE… our marathon continues and we want it all, so lets take it… thanks for everything… but we are not done”

Greek’s own Fotis Katsikaris deserves a lot of a credit for this too, he had some pressure and critics earlier this season because of some decisions he took last summer, those ones which now everybody knows were the right ones.  As he says: “Sometimes heart is stronger than legs”.


Congratulations Bilbao.

The article was written by Borja Tovar of Planeta ACB. You can follow him on twitter @btp_13