Losing the team’s best player so far this season, Darrun Hilliard, to injury ahead of Thursday night’s home game against LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, left FC Bayern Munich looking for a new hero to overcome the athletic French team. In fact, it found two heroes.
The identity of one of those was anything but surprising: team leader Vladimir Lucic delivered his usual high standards by pairing 18 points with 8 rebounds, playing a particularly important role during the second quarter by single-handedly going on a 10-0 run, allowing Bayern to recover from a slow start and take – for the first time in the game – a lead which would never be relinquished.
On this occasion, however, Lucic was not the game’s top performer. Instead, that honor belonged to a man who had double reason to celebrate the eventual 73-65 victory: center Augustine Rubit.
Making his 100th appearance in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in his fourth season in the competition with four different clubs, the former Brose Bamberg, Olympiacos Piraeus and Zalgiris Kaunas player marked the occasion with 19 points, 12 rebounds and a PIR of 24, all game-highs.
Like Lucic, Rubit also delivered the goods when it mattered the most – especially when he was reintroduced to the court with 7 minutes remaining and the game on the line, as ASVEL threatened a comeback and the scoreline was finely poised at 62-59. Rubit netted the next basket, after gathering one of his 5 offensive rebounds, and soon added two more scores to stretch the lead to a comfortable 70-63 margin, extinguishing ASVEL’s lingering hopes of escaping with a win.
Those 19 points and 12 boards marked only the third double-double of Rubit’s 100-game EuroLeague career and the first since his rookie season with Bamberg in 2017-18, while the 12 rebounds set a new personal best. And more important than the stats, his century-marking performance allowed Bayern to lift its collective spirits after the disappointing news of Hilliard’s injury.
Speaking of that setback after the game, Bayern Coach Andrea Trinchieri – who is never short of an entertaining description – quipped: “I have only one recipe in this situation. If you compare Darrun’s game to a cake, I don’t have anyone else who can make the same cake. But I can split the cake in pieces. Everybody should take a piece of the cake and do a part of the job. There will be a lot of opportunities for other players. It’s very simple. Simple to say. Not so simple to do. But at least we have a plan.”
A simple plan, apparently involving a cake. On Thursday night, Rubit celebrated his EuroLeague century by bringing along his own cake and blowing out ASVEL’s candles.