Collarbone fracture confirmed for top scorer Hilliard
Thu, 21/04/22, 09:14
Bayern move "even closer together" ahead of Game 2 in Barcelona
The morning after: Augustine Rubit stretches his bones in the gym before breakfast, as he usually does. The mood at the casual brunch is good, and a few have already taken a cab into town for a short trip. Some fresh air and a change of pace to clear the head. The coaches study the game from the previous evening together, which they had already watched again in its entirety during the night, each for himself. And at noon, Darrun Hilliard also returned to the hotel, having spent the night in the hospital, which is not far from the Bayern basketball team's quarters.
Bayern's 29-year-old U.S. guard, FCBB's top scorer with an average of 13.7 points, will travel back to Munich with team doctor Sebastian Lappen before the second playoff clash at FC Barcelona (Thursday, 20:00), where he will undergo surgery on a cracked collarbone. How long Hilliard, who had been missing for three months in the winter due to a knee injury, will be out will be seen in the coming weeks. In any case, a second offensively strong guard will be missing on Thursday alongside Corey Walden (9.8 ppg).
"Will also play for Darrun"
It's business as usual for Bayern, who have fought their way back into the knockout rounds of the top flight after a complicated season with endless obstacles. And they are trailing 0-1 in the best-of-five series after a very hard-fought Game 1 that was close for a long time at the seemingly overpowering EuroLeague favorite Barça (77-67). After all, it was exactly a year ago that the Munich team narrowly lost the first playoff game of a German EuroLeague team against a much, much deeper-stacked star ensemble and lost one of its key players, Nick Weiler-Babb, for the season.
It was general manager Marko Pesic who on Tuesday night in the small circle cheered up the group and directed the view forward, despite the defeat after a spirited performance in the witch's cauldron of the Palau Blaugrana with 7,000 hot-blooded Catalans. And despite the low blow of the overnight diagnosis to Hilliard.
"Unfortunately, as in the previous year, we lost another very important player in the first playoff game," said Pesic, "he has been our best shooter so far and we are obviously not spared anything this season. But that's only going to make us even closer now. We will also play for Darrun and continue to try to get the most out of this series and the season. I have full confidence in our team and coaches."
„Nevertheless, we proved that we can play for the victory here as well and that's why we will try everything again in the second game.”
"Barça was really ready"
Darrun Hilliard had initiated Bayern's comeback in the third quarter, hitting a three-pointer to make it 52-49 (28th) and had visibly found his touch before, with twelve points to his name before he collided violently with Barcelona's forward Smits while fighting for the ball in the 32nd minute. "His fracture shows how physical this game was," head coach Andrea Trinchieri later commented on the mishap after an intense playoff battle in which Barcelona had defended to the limit with commitment from the second quarter onward.
"The series has now started after a first game in which Barça was really ready," said Trinchieri, "they showed off their enormous quality in this one. Unfortunately, we have to deal with physical problems again. Nevertheless, we proved that we can play for victory here, too, and that's why we'll try everything again in the second game."
By the way, a year ago Trinchieri's Bayern, without Weiler-Babb, also lost the second game in Milan. They then won two games in the Audi Dome to a spectacular 2:2 draw, and in the fifth duel they only missed the Final Four by a tiny margin.