In the course of a season, basketball teams will turn to their star names to make a difference on the majority of occasions. There is a reason why certain teams have star players that stand out from the rest of the crowd. However, with the exception of a handful of players who are above and beyond us mere mortals, most teams need to rely on their squad over the course of a season. This means at certain points in the season, squad players and unsung heroes will come to the fore and make a difference in a vital way.
This was the case for Real Madrid in their opening game against Anadolu Efes Istanbul on Wednesday night. The Spanish side managed to win the game by a score of 80-71 but anyone looking at the score sheet may see a couple of names that they don’t immediately recognise or have expected to see. The top scorer for the home side was KC Rivers, who grabbed 21 points in the game. This was a career high for Rivers and with 6 of 7 three point shots, he can be extremely proud of his efforts. It is vital that you win your home games and due to his efforts, the team from the Spanish capital are 1-0 up.
Some unsung heroes had a big evening for Madrid
Another player that caught the attention was Gustavo Ayon, who also had a big night. The player managed to grab his first ever double-double for Real Madrid, who at times were looking as though they were struggling. In the second quarter, the home side were 11 points behind but a big run in the third quarter, where they outscored their Turkish opponents by a margin of 26-10 put the favourites back in the lead and on the home straight.
Madrid now have some momentum at home
This was the ninth home win in a row for Madrid and it takes their season record to 20-5. Ayon offered up 14 points, 10 rebounds and 4 steals while Felipe Reyes provided 12 points and Rudy Fernandez nudged into double figures with 10 points. Dario Saric was a key player for the away team with 13 points and Cedi Osman offered up 11 points in the win. Thomas Huertel provided 11 assists but he also committed 8 turnovers, which is a record in the Euroleague playoffs, a record that Huertel shares with Rimas Kaukenas, who achieved it back in 2009 when he was playing for Montepaschi Siena.
Madrid know that they will face another tough game on Fridya night but the Spanish giants should have more than enough in their locker to win this game and take a 2-0 lead in the series. After this, the games switch to Turkey and Anadolu will be hoping that they have enough about them to force the game to a decider in Madrid, if not actually finish the job on their home patch!
Bwin make Madrid big favourites for Friday, offering Money Line odds of 1.08 for Real Madrid to win the game. If you fancy an upset, you will find Anadolu Efes available at odds of 7.50.