|06 March 2012|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Alex Abrines is getting valuable playing time with Unicaja and has now joined the select company of stars like Navarro, Fernandez and Rubio|
U18 European Championship MVP Alejandro Abrines joined the select company of household names like Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio this past weekend.
Abrines, who has been a permanent name on historical Unicaja's senior team roster since the start of the season, travelled with his team to Zaragoza on Saturday to play against local outfit CAI in the Spanish league (Liga Endesa).
The game did not go the way the Malaga club would have liked, but it turned into a memorable occasion for the young Spanish international nonetheless.
The 18-year-old forward (he turns 19 in August) stayed on the floor for 26 minutes and 46 seconds and scored his first ever points from the field. He was 2-for-2 from two-point range and 1-for-4 from behind the arc.
Abrines had featured in eight league games previously, averaging almost seven minutes per game, but his only point in the league had come from a free throw in Unicaja's win over Joventut Badalona on 18 December.
In the last 18 years of Liga Endesa (previously Liga ACB), the only players to have featured so long and scored in a game at such a young age have been three now established superstars of the Spanish senior national team.
The Malaga player's ‘predecessors' are Spain and Barcelona Regal captain Juan Carlos Navarro, the EuroBasket 2011 MVP, and the two prodigies to come out of the Joventut Badalona system in the last decade, Rudy Fernandez of the Denver Nuggets and Ricky Rubio, now in his rookie NBA season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Abrines had inadvertently made the news in Spain the weekend before his achievement in Zaragoza.
Due to a miscommunication between his club and news agencies, it was reported that he was rushed to hospital after feeling intense pain during practice and had to undergo urgent appendicitis surgery.
The player, national media reported, would be out of action for a considerable amount of time.
When he took to the floor the very next day in Unicaja's game against Valencia there was, quite understandably, confusion all around.
The club then made clear that the player had indeed visited the hospital, but his situation was by no means critical and the doctors had decided they could simply monitor him and determine whether an operation is necessary at a later stage.