MVP for April: Facundo Campazzo, Real Madrid

May 03, 2019 by Print

Real Madrid was the only team to sweep its playoff series this season and accordingly the first to clinch a spot at the Final Four in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Los Blancos could not have done it without the stellar play of point guard Facundo Campazzo, who was at the center of it all. With team leader and former EuroLeague MVP Sergio Llull sidelined, Campazzo stepped up to lead Madrid's offense and stop one of the best point guards in Europe, Nick Calathes of Panathinaikos OPAP Athens. For his dominance in leading Madrid to the Final Four and giving his club a chance to successfully defend the title, Euroleague Basketball has chosen Campazzo as the competition's MVP for April. Campazzo played some of the best basketball in his career over the past month; he led the playoffs in assists (8.3 apg.) and steals (3.0 spg.), tied for ninth in rebounds (4.7 rpg.) and ranked second in average performance index rating (24.3 per game). Campazzo improved his numbers in all major statistical categories in April and by doing so lifted Madrid to another Final Four with a clean sweep against Panathinaikos, a team that had won seven of its last eight regular season games to reach the playoffs.

The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 15th season. Although statistics and performance index ratings are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team's performance. The award for April is based on the games played from the final round of the regular season through the end of the EuroLeague Playoffs.

An 86-93 home loss against Zalgiris in Round 30 of the regular season kept Madrid from being the only undefeated team in April. By that time, the team's focus was solely on the playoffs and there were those doubting Madrid's chances when it was announced that Llull would not be available for the start of the playoffs. However, with some experts then giving Madrid the edge at point guard, Campazzo came to the fore. He had a great all-around game in the series opener with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 7 fouls drawn for a PIR of 18. Campazzo played a critical role at the end of the game, too. With his team down 66-72 with less than 4 minutes left, he made 4 free throws and fed Rudy Fernandez for a three-pointer in a 9-0 closing run that gave Madrid a 1-0 lead in the series. In Game 2, Campazzo was all over the place again, leading Madrid to a 78-63 win. He finished the contest with 13 points and game-highs of 7 rebounds, 9 assists and a PIR of 26. The series moved to Athens for Game 3 and Campazzo remained unstoppable, leading Madrid to an 82-89 series-clinching win in the Greek capital with a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists and a PIR of 29. Panathinaikos led 68-66 midway through the fourth quarter, but Campazzo fed Gustavo Ayon for three consecutive scores in as many possessions and then found Jeffrey Taylor for a triple. He followed that with a bomb from downtown to seal the outcome, 74-81. Not only was Campazzo great on offense, but he also played great on-the-ball defense all series long. Calathes, who averaged 12.3 points on 49.0% two-point shooting, 8.9 assists and a PIR of 16.7 in the regular season, saw his numbers drop to 11.7 points on 22.2% two-point shooting (6 of 27), 6.0 assists and a PIR of 7.7 against Campazzo and Madrid.

Campazzo played a key role for Madrid during the regular season; he appeared in 29 games – including nine as a starter – in which he was worth 8.2 points on 38.4% two-point shooting, 2.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.4 steals, 3.9 fouls drawn and a PIR of 11.2. He improved on all of those numbers in the playoffs. Campazzo tallied 12.3 points on 66.7% two-point shooting, 4.7 rebounds, 8.3 assists, 3.0 steals, 5.7 fouls drawn and a PIR of 24.3 in the three games against Panathinaikos. Most important of all, Campazzo led Madrid to a perfect playoffs series against a EuroLeague powerhouse.

The 28-year-old playmaker is in his third season with Madrid and helped the club win the EuroLeague in each of his previous two – in 2015 and 2018. In between, he starred for fellow Spanish side UCAM Murcia. Campazzo began his career in his native Argentina, where he spent six seasons with Penarol Mar del Plata and won four national championships. He has also been a regular with the Argentinean national team, with which he captured the South American Championship in 2012.

The award is the second by a Madrid player this season after Walter Tavares was named MVP for October. Campazzo also joined Nikola Mirotic, Fernandez, Llull, Ayon and Luka Doncic as players to earn EuroLeague monthly MVP honors with Madrid. Campazzo is the second player from Argentina – after Luis Scola with Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in December 2006 – to be awarded the MVP of the month trophy.