This is no doubt the most even Copa of the last five or six years. And the game between Real and CAI showed it clearly.
CAI Zaragoza is a well thought out team. Despite a considerable number of changes from last year (Rudez, Shermadini) CAI has developed a consistent style and sticks to it. Yesterday’s game was no time waster for CAI, they put up a fight and did not give in until the beginning of the last quarter when Real’s ammunition proved to be too much for them.
Real Madrid did not take the game seriously until the third quarter. Click on the link below to see Pablo Laso shouting at their players for their lack of defensive work.
Once his players decided that it was time to get down to business, Laso’s team started playing its game: defense, fast breaks and transition plays. Still, Real Madrid did not look outstanding, just effective, business-like. Once has to look beyond the authoritarian streaks of Rudy, Jaycee’s fits of three pointers and Lull’s drive to assess the real strength of this team. Some questions to be answered:
How many big players does Laso need to build a meaningful “in the paint” game? I’m not a captive fan of pick-and-roll teams, but does Laso believe in the connection point guard-centre? Does he understand it?
Real Madrid’s game last year was clearly shaped by the skills of its key players: Rudy, Llull, Sergio. The very reason why Real hired Nocioni, Maciulis and Ayón was to make the team’s style more nuanced, less predictable. Laso has not exploited that new blood to its full potential.
Real Madrid is now entering the key phase of the season. He’s clearly the favourite today vs Joventut and will likely meet Barcelona at the final.