Basketball: In the Cup, everyone against Real Madrid | Basketball | Sports

Musa goes to the basket against Nnaji in one of the duels between Madrid and Barça this season.SERGIO PEREZ (EFE)

The orange ball bounces in Malaga. Waves of fans arrive at the AVE station, some with scarves and chants as a greeting, others dressed in cheerleaders ready to entertain and surprise, also children’s teams of the Mini Cup… Floods of enthusiasm and ambition, all aware however that the rival to beat is Real Madrid, a team that is going through this season with an overwhelming superiority, to the point that it is the leader of the ACB and the Euroleague. That is why Chus Mateo’s team must reconquer the throne of the Cup, which for some reason is the one with the most crowns (28 of 51 finals), followed by Barcelona (27 of 38), and already far from Joventut (8) and Baskonia (6), famous absentees in the edition.

The solid and host Unicaja, the irregular Barcelona, ​​the effervescent Valencia, the tenacious Tenerife, the attractive Gran Canaria, the irreverent Murcia and the surprising Manresa. There are seven contenders who intend to chip away at Madrid, a team that in 2023 sealed the historical record of 74 victories and that has barely shivered this season, with 43 wins in 50 avoids (86%). Much superior, for example, to Barça, second in Europe and third in the League (33 out of 49; 67.3%). Not only that, because the league figures explain that Chus Mateo’s team leads the classifications in valuation, points in favor, defensive rebounds, assists, percentage of shots from two, percentages from the free throw line and even dunks.

UCAM Murcia will try first, which started the season very in tune thanks to the Swede Simon Birgander until he underwent surgery. It is their third participation in the Cup and they have never fallen in the quarterfinals, a situation that Madrid has also been unaware of since 2013, concerned about the injuries of Llull and Tavares, unknowns to be resolved. If the white team wins, in the semifinals they would meet the winner of Gran Canaria-Valencia, a high-class duel because the oranges They entered the Euroleague thanks to the resignation of the Canaries, focused on the Eurocup and the Cup for the first time since 2013. On the other side of the table is Grimau’s Barça, capable of the best and the worst – although in tune with the step of the matches because they have six wins in a row -, which will be measured against the cheerful Manresa, who likes sprint basketball. A victory would match them with the one that prevails between Tenerife – who attends the event for the sixth consecutive time – and Unicaja, who wants to green the laurel. The most complicated goal because no one in history has achieved it except for Barça and Madrid.

It is the Cup, a land of surprises. Although not so many because since 2010 the duopoly has been accentuated, since Barça won it seven times to Madrid’s six. Until Unicaja rebelled in the previous edition. A condition that everyone at Martín Carpena wants to imitate to prevent the trophy, once again, from going to the best of the season.

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