Real Madrid did not have much good news before its game against Fenerbahce Bejo Istanbul. Trey Thompkins and Anthony Randolph remain sidelined and team captain Sergio Llull was also injured. Late this afternoon, head coach Pablo Laso got a call from Real's doctor. He learned that All-EuroLeague center Edy Tavares may miss the game as his wife, Paula Grimon, was about to give birth to the couple's first son, Samuel.
"I received the call about 5:36. The doctor called me up, his wife was going to the hospital with Edy, so I spoke to him. And I told him 'Edy, this is an important moment in your life so you have to decide a little bit, see if everything is okay, maybe you can go to the hospital, maybe you can come to the game and then go again.' But then I said 'you have to make a decision, I don't want to force you on this situation: think what it is going to be good for you, for your family, for your baby and also for the team, value everything, we are not going to push you'."
Tavares had already made the decision: he wouldn't play the game to be with his wife in one of the most special moments of his life.
"And he texted me right back like an hour before the game and said 'Pablo, I don't think I can make it'," Laso said. "So a lot of times we ask Edy for so many things, now we have to understand that this is an important moment of his life, and we are very happy that we got the victory, for sure, and we are happy that we have another member in the family."
Without Tavares, Vincent Poirier had a golden opportunity to see extended playing time and dedicate the victory to Tavares and his family. Poirier, however, did not have a good start to the game; he was scoreless and committed 2 fouls in the first quarter. But in basketball, it is not how you start the game, but how you finish it, and this is when Poirier made the difference.
When the dust settled, Poirier had set a club record for most rebounds in a game with 17. Tavares had the previous record with 16 rebounds against Panathinaikos OPAP Athens on March 28, 2019. Poirier did much more than just rebound, however, as he also hit the go-ahead free throws with 10.7 seconds left, allowing Real to register its fourth victory. He scored all of his 5 points in the final 7 minutes of the game.
"I just made 1 of 2 [free throws] before and we didn't know who had the call, if it was really on me, if it was Rudy or me. And all the team was 'Rudy! Get Rudy!" so I tried to get Rudy [to go to the free-throw line] and then it was me," Poirier said with a big smile on his face. "It was the moment to show up and I did it. I am glad I didn't miss! That was a great feeling. Now they have confidence in me!" he joked.
Real beat Fenerbahce 70-69 to remain undefeated at home and improve its record to 4-1. Fabien Causeur added 16 points, including buzzer-beating three-pointers at the end of the second and third quarters, while Thomas Heurtel had 10 for Real.
"I texted [Edy Tavares] before the game and said 'don't worry, I got this'," Poirier said. "Unfortunately, for three quarters, I wasn't there, and in the last quarter, I needed to step up, lead the team and get the win. So I did good, I grabbed rebounds. I wasn't good offensively, but tried to do my best on defense, on the offensive rebounds, and let my shooters shoot."
Real lost Nigel Williams-Goss during the game due to a finger injury. After playing four of its first five games at home, Los Blancos hit the road to play against Zenit St Petersburg, UNICS Kazan, and FC Bayern Munich in the next two weeks.