bwin MVP for April: Sergio Llull, Real Madrid

Apr 29, 2013 by Print
bwin MVP for April: Sergio Llull, Real Madrid
Sergio Llull - Real Madrid - EB12bwin MVPReal Madrid stormed into the 2013 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four as the lone team to carry a four-game winning streak forward to the season's title-deciding weekend. Its hottest player during that month-long streak was star guard Sergio Llull, Euroleague Basketball's choice as the bwin MVP for April. Entering the month, Los Blancos were assured a playoff berth, but no more, until winning their Top 16 finale against Anadolu Efes Istanbul behind 16 points and 6 rebounds from Llull. Armed now with home-court advantage, Madrid proceeded to put on one of the most dominant performances in playoffs history, with Llull on fire almost from the start. Madrid routed Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv in this season's sole playoffs sweep by becoming the only team ever to with all three games in a best-of-five series by double digits. To help do that, Llull took his game to great heights, leading Madrid in scoring and performance index rating during the series, while also matching the third-most three-pointers made in a single playoff game. Llull's dynamic, exciting and efficient play assured that Madrid would reach London by the quickest route possible and made him the logical choice to become bwin MVP for April.

The bwin MVP of the Month honor is now in its ninth season. Although statistics and performance index ratings are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team's performance. The award for April was based on the last Top 16 games, played on April 4 and 5, and the four playoffs series, which lasted from April 9 through April 26. Euroleague Basketball partner bwin is the sponsor of the MVP of the Month award. Just as the best Euroleague player each month combines performance and leadership for success, so does bwin's sponsorship communicate its conviction to be the best betting brand in European basketball.

Llull's impact could be seen and measured in each of Real Madrid Euroleague games during the month of April. It started against Anadolu Efes, when Llull came to the rescue in the third quarter. Madrid took charge early, led by double figures through 10 minutes and by 17 at halftime. However, after Efes scored the first 7 points of the second half and started to threaten, Llull stepped in. He scored to change the momentum and singlehandedly outscored Efes 13-11 over the game's next 8 minutes. After Lull opened the fourth quarter with a triple, Madrid led 68-48 and was well on its way to victory. Not done yet, he dished 3 assists in the next 3 minutes as Madrid celebrated winning home-court advantage in the playoffs. A week later, when Madrid welcomed Maccabi for Game 1 of the playoffs, Llull dished 3 assists and hit a three-pointer during a mid-game, 29-16 run that sent his team to a 79-53 blowout victory. Game 2, however, was the Sergio Llull show. He scored a career-high 26 points on 6-of-8 three-point shooting as Madrid marched to a convincing 75-63 win. He scored the game’s first basket, added a pair of first-quarter threes and never let up as Madrid took a 2-0 series lead. His three-point total matched the third-best ever in a playoff game. In Tel Aviv for Game 3, Llull hit 2 more threes in the first quarter to put his team up 5-14. He remained central to his team's effort, nailing another three to open the second half and hitting go-ahead free throws late in the third quarter as Madrid pulled away to sweep the series.

All told, Llull’s 15.7 points per game were third among all playoff participants. His 11 three-pointers were second most, but Llull had the highest average, 3.67, which matched the fourth-best ever in a playoff series. Moreover, he was fourth in three-point accuracy at 61.1% this season. Now approaching the prime of his career, Llull was named to the 2010-11 All-Euroleague Second Team the last time Madrid reached the Final Four. As he proved in April, Llull is eager to take his game up a notch on the biggest stage to challenge for Euroleague glory.