Checked out the Caja Laboral Baskonia-Real Madrid game on Sunday as part of BallinEurope’s personal playoff tripleheader (the ACB semifinal was bumpered by Lakers-Suns NBA Western Conference Championship game six and game two of the Olympiacos-Panathinaikos EΣAKE championship) and thoroughly enjoyed Madrid’s
last gasp in the 2009-10 season spirited late comeback to send the game into overtime.
Particularly of note, however, was that ACB MVP rising above the fray: Tiago Splitter once again showed his capacity to dominate a game, particularly on the defensive end. Sure, his stat line for the game looked great with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting plus 10 boards for an overall player rating of 35 (not to mention an eight-point, four-rebound first quarter that indicated what kinda afternoon he’d have), but it was the leadership and intangibles that really set the prospective San Antonio Spur apart in his team’s 85-80 overtime win.
Over at the ACB’s official website, sportswriter/“Playblog” blogger Malo de Molina gushes enthusiastically about what he sees as a career performance for Splitter, particularly on two plays down the stretch in the fourth quarter and again in OT. BiE presents a little translation/reinterpretation/recouching – call it a re-imagining, if you will – of de Molina’s column entitled simply “Splitter es El Rey.”
Yes, there will be video.
(ACB) — On Sunday, Tiago Splitter put in one of the most defining and significant games in this year’s playoffs. Splitter managed an overall player ranking of 34 in the game, quite a feat in itself considering the stakes, but Splitter also acted as controlling force over his team in the clutch.
Splitter is great – he *is the MVP* – but his 23 points and 34 rating are incredible even for him. Though Splitter has been a model of consistency throughout the season, the game marked his second-best performance in terms of ranking and his third-highest point total in 2009-10.
In the win over Real Madrid, the Baskonia attack went through Splitter on nearly every play … and Splitter proved to be a nightmare for Madrid in the post, continuously drawing fouls, including three assessed to Ante Tomic, two each for Darjus Lavrinovic and Novica Velickovic, and one to Felipe Reyes.
On defense Splitter was second to none, a constantly intimidating force. The key statistic here: When the big Brazilian was not on the floor, Real Madrid averaged 2.1 points per minute; while Splitter was playing, Madrid managed just 1.7 per.
Tiago’s dominance is perfectly summarized in two plays.
• See about 1:44 in the above-embedded video. In the closing seconds of regulation with the scored tied up at 73, Splitter first (successfully) seeks to prevent a pass to Pablo Prigioni, then manages to recover defensive position to force a bad shot out of Reyes. (Nice extension.)
• At the 2:04 mark of the video: In overtime, with the score 81-78, Fernando San Emeterio finds Splitter with the 24-second clock running out. Splitter crushes two Madridians underneath for the jam, the score was 83-78 with 1:27 remaining in the game, and the rest was history.
An epic duel of MVPs
Three former ACB MVPs remain in the playoffs – Tiago Splitter (2009-10), FC Barcelona’s Juan Carlos Navarro (2005-06) and Felipe Reyes (2008-09) – and all three are playing sensationally. Splitter and Reyes are locked in a nice face-to-face in the Baskonia-Madrid series.
Due to injuries, Reyes has often been playing the four spot for Madrid as of late, creating lots of Splitter-Reyes battling; both have been critical to their teams’ success. In this series, just as Baskonia is constantly looking for Splitter on the pass, so too is Madrid with Reyes. And just as Splitter is drawing foul after foul, so is Reyes. And in the last game, Reyes even out-rebounded Splitter, 13-10.
Tiago Splitter’s gang travels to Madrid for game three of the best-of-five ACB semifinal series on Wednesday. Tipoff time is 8.30pm CET (2.30pm EST) and can be watched live online at the official ACB website.