Sito’s team drew their best start, were the thrill of the Cup and hit the ‘play-off’, but their fall over the last few days ruined everything
The season ends for UCAM with the same number of wins as last season, in a better position (tenth) and with a return to Europe (provided the criteria do not change). It has played spectacular basketball making it the second highest scoring team in the second best league in the world and has had brilliant moments such as the best start in its history as never before have fewer games (sixteen) been needed to get the ten wins. And how to forget Granada.
The 2021-22 season will always be that of the first classification for sporting merits for the Copa del Rey in the final phase. One in which an epic UCAM, born of the battle against Covid-19, was the only team to drop a top standings in the quarter-finals, and the team that put the champion on track, a Barça behind Murcia in the third quarter. The first Cup for many generations of fans and unforgettable for everyone, even the oldest.
But the sensations it ends with are quite different. The same UCAM that appeared to be the best ever, that of the cup, ended the season with a loss of six of their last seven games, the worst record since 2010, the year of the last relegation. Of the ten wins in the first round, it went to six in the second round. Same as the two teams going to the LEB (Andorra and Burgos), the last they won (Obradoiro) and the worst Unicaja in decades. Only Zaragoza has won less.
UCAM’s 10th place to finish the season is the worst of the entire season, keeping 15th from day one. From day 2 to 25 he has always been in the playoffs, which he came back to on 28 and 31. He qualified sixth for the Copa del Rey, on day 9 he was third and by day 13 had already passed a third of the competition, fourth.
UCAM had never qualified for the current cup due to sporting merits. Players come and go, but they know the history if they succeed. The UCAM prior to qualifying was one played in automatic mode, with highly recognizable identity features, defined roles and engaging basketball. But after qualifying, not after the Cup, it started to drain.
Up to that point, UCAM had not lost two games in a row and none by ten points. Just after he got a ticket for Granada, he fell in Zaragoza with thirteen (91-78) and in Tenerife with sixteen (87-71). Of the next ten defeats, five are also double digits. For the first time, he chained tripping three times in a row when the postponed Day 19 (Baskonia) was merged with the 29 (Manresa) and 30 (Bilbao). I hadn’t lost three on one until then, only to do it again when, after beating Obradoiro in the 31st, the season ended with three more defeats.
UCAM, which reached its only play-off with a winning final sprint of five games in a row in 2016, lacked the maturity to defend its big goal, which is recognized by Sito and players. The cup tournament milestone, experienced at maximum intensity, psychologically extended the season after a deceptive sense of completion after achieving something unprecedented.
UCAM’s second-round decline is also the loss of its major competitive advantage. It was the team with the most continuity compared to last season, so their game started closer to their boiling point compared to others who took more time. Baskonia, which did not participate in the Cup and finished sixth, had eight new faces.
As the season has progressed, Sito’s team has lacked evolution and has plenty of offensive reliance on Isaiah Taylor and James Webb III. Clearly the two most talented players, their slump also comes from UCAM, which must now decide how far its efforts will go to renew them. Taylor, who dropped just below double digits in three games in the first round, was left in just one in three of the last four, having lost almost all of his freshness in one on one and shooting under 50% of I hit the basket this second round.
Webb III, ‘MVP’ of the month of January, also seemed like another. Arriving in Murcia as a player who can defend and attack players of different positions and profiles, with the ability to play above the ring and full involvement in stewardship, he is done with the lights out. And almost reduced to triple in attack, without being a specialist: in the last six games he shot as many or more than three than two. And that he was a very reliable player on the edge: he finished the first round with a 71.4% success rate in strokes from two. In the second round, 50.7%, down twenty points, shooting 36 times more than three than two.
Source: La Verdad
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