Almost 11 months after he was last seen in a Turkish Airlines EuroLeague game, 2016-17 season MVP Sergio Llull is returning from injury on Wednesday to join Real Madrid for Game 3 of its playoffs series against Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens!
"Quitting was never an option!" Llull posted on Twitter on Tuesday. "The time has come! I'm happy to re-join the team again. See you tomorrow!"
Head coach Pablo Laso of Real Madrid confirmed that Llull will play at his pre-game press conference on Tuesday, saying, "Llull will be playing. If we didn't think he can help the team, he would not play, that's for sure. He's been practicing at full throttle with the team for some 15 to 20 days now. We have fulfilled the timings, and without his work and the team around him it would have not been possible. I see him well and restricting his minutes is a complicated thing when you are his coach because he gets angry when he's on the bench. However, we know it's his first game in a long time, so he still has to improve in certain things and I am sure he's aware of it. It all dependss on how the game turns out. We are happy that he has been able to come back after so much time sidelined."
The series is tied 1-1 and Madrid hosts Game 3 in the Spanish capital on Wednesday. It has been 258 days since Llull tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in an exhibition game with the Spanish national team last summer. Prior to that, the 2015 EuroLeague champion had led Real Madrid back to the Final Four with his best season to date and was voted by fans and media as the MVP of the competition. Llull last season ranked third in assists (5.9 apg.), fifth in scoring (16.5 ppg.) and seventh in PIR (16.9) among all EuroLeague players.
It was the top individual honor of a career marked by success. Besides taking the EuroLeague title in 2015 – Madrid's first in two decades – Llull has won the Spanish League three times and the Spanish King's Cup five times with Real Madrid. With the Spanish national team, he has won EuroBasket gold medals three times (2015, 2011 and 2009) and bronze once (2013), as well as Olympics silver in the London Games of 2012 and bronze in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Llull, who turned 30 last November, will now continue his climb up the all-time rankings in the EuroLeague, where he has played 236 games to date. He is currently ranked seventh all-time in total assists (902), eighth in total points (2,528) and three-pointers made (368), and 15th in total performance index rating (2,573). Interestingly, Llull posted his EuroLeague career high of 30 points in the last game he played against Panathinaikos at home in Madrid, on Nov. 16, 2017, a day after his 29th birthday.