Real Madrid center Walter Tavares reached a major milestone on Thursday night, joining a very select company of players who blocked at least 250 shots in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Tavares became only the third man to do so with 3 blocks, all in the first half, in a thrilling 73-75 win over AX Armani Exchange Milan.
The two-time EuroLeague Best Defender entered the game with 248 blocks for his career, in fourth place all-time, and 1 block behind third-placed Fran Vazquez. Tavares tied Vazquez by blocking Devon Hall after less than 6 minutes of play in the first quarter. On the very next Milan possession, Tavares reached the milestone of 250 blocks and moved into sole possession of the third place in the rankings by emphatically swatting Nicolo Melli's attempt.
Tavares added another block in the second quarter, denying Kyle Hines. This was the seventh straight game with Tavares delivering at least 1 blocked shot and his ninth game of the season with multiple blocks.
He now joins the all-time leader in blocked shots, Bryant Dunston (279) of Anadolu Efes Istanbul, and Milan's Hines (270) as the only players who have blocked 250 shots in competition history.
What's impressive about Tavares is that he has done so in only 142 appearances. There is no other player among the top eight on the all-time charts with fewer than 196 games played. No player with at least three seasons in the competition has a better career average than Tavares's 1.77 per game. The Real center, in his fifth season in the competition, has at least 43 blocks in every season so far.
Tavares was limited in his production on Thursday night due to foul trouble, after picking up his third personal foul and then a technical foul after 4 minutes of play in the third quarter. Tavares did not re-enter the game until the final 44 seconds, but he still managed to make an impact by grabbing an offensive rebound with 15 seconds left, which allowed Real to run a precious 10 seconds off the clock.
He finished the game with 5 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, and Real managed to hold on to victory after Malcolm Delaney's potential game-winning three-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer, making the milestone night for Tavares also a winning one.