Road to the Playoffs: KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz

Apr 12, 2019 by Euroleague.net Print

There are high hopes in Vitoria-Gasteiz for KIROLBET Baskonia to make the Final Four it will be hosting in May. However, when the season started, things started to look grim.

The team won the opening game against Zalgiris Kaunas but after that, it just won one of the following seven games inclusing losses against teams that would not make the playoffs like Bayern Munich, Olympiacos or Buducnost. This slow start caused a change in the bench as coach Pedro Martinez left and Velimir Perasovic stepped back in as bench boss. Perasovic was the last coach to take Baskonia to a Final Four in 2016 in Berlin.

With Perasovic at the helm, the team managed to win five of the following seven games including key successes against Panathinaikos OPAP Athens and CSKA Moscow at home plus a dramatic 79-81 win at Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv thanks to a Vincent Poirier bucket with 11 seconds to go. Later in the season, that win would prove to be key as Maccabi was one of the teams that was in the mix for the last three playoff berths along with Baskonia.

Baskonia had injury problems that left it without big names such as Jayson Granger or team captain Toko Shengelia among several others like Patricio Garino or Matt Janning. These problems never allowed the team from the Basque Country to establish a solid rhythm and combined wins and losses until the decisive part of the regular season.

In Round 24, Baskonia started a three-game winning streak that would prove decisive to make the playoffs, especially when the team defeated Khimki Moscow Region at home with a new club record of 31 assists in one game, 104-86, and later Baskonia also defeated the defending champs, Real Madrid, at home in Round 28 by 86-76.

Baskonia put an end to the regular season with two consecutive losses to Anadolu Efes and CSKA Moscow, but fate would have it that other results in other games helped Baskonia get into the next phase.

With captain Shengelia back to action, Baskonia will now meet the almighty CSKA Moscow in the playoffs. Both teams won their home games this season, and CSKA has made it to all the Final Fours since 2003 except for Barcelona 2011. It will be a high obstacle to overcome, but if Baskonia wants to be in the Final Four at home, it will have to get rid of the quintessential Final Four team.