The captain of the Estudiantes, Edgar Vicedo, 26, arrived in Magariños 12 ago, in the cadet category, and, in this time at the club, he has experienced a bankruptcy, two declines saved in the offices (2012 and 2016), a year on loan to Huesca, the march of friends and thriving homegrown players such as Jaime Fernández and Darío Brizuela, several sporting lurch and a systemic crisis. His story summarizes the misfortune of the Ramiro de Maeztu team, which yesterday completed its third relegation from the ACB League to the LEB. The previous two were reversible administratively and, last year, the outbreak of the pandemic and the suspension of the season prevented another that seemed safe. This time, purgatory seems insurmountable and catharsis an obligation after years of loss of identity, body and soul. Of serious failures in philosophy and management.
On Friday, in the game against San Pablo Burgos in which the student team played salvation, Vicedo could barely play seven minutes, weighed down by a sprained ankle still without recovery. Along with him, Adams Sola (20 years old), Nacho Varela (21) and Rubén Domínguez (18) fought to save the spirit of the quarry, but it was not enough. None of the players who accompanied them added more than one season in a row at the club; Sakic and Laksa, the last to arrive, only two and six games respectively. “In the end we were at the limit, there were players who couldn’t even with their pants and, despite this, they have tried,” summed up the coach, Jota Cuspinera, who in mid-February took over from Javier Zamora but could not find the right formula to save the team (four wins in 17 games).
Students, one of the six founders of the National League in 1957, the current ACB, only fell outside the top eight places in the table in seven of the 54 editions held between 1956 and 2010, with four runners-up as major milestones ( in the courses 1962-1963, 1967-1968, 1980-1981 and 2003-2004) and always away from any qualifying rush. However, in the last decade the ordeal has been constant. A deep-rooted crisis on the track and dispatches.
In the last 11 seasons, 11 coaches have paraded through Magariños (Luis Casimiro, Pepu Hernández, Trifón Poch, Txus Vidorreta, Diego Ocampo, Sergio Valdeolmillos, Salva Maldonado, Josep María Berrocal, Aleksandar Dzikic, Javier Zamora and Cuspinera) and more than 90 signings of uneven baggage and little journey. Only this course, 21 players have worn the collegiate shirt.
A month ago, the club experienced the departure of Italian Alessandro Gentile (to recover in his country from the aftermath of the covid) and the final discharge of Frenchman Edwin Jackson (after his relapse from the wrist injury). The American base John Roberson also fell and more infections reached the locker room. And, 12 days ago, JJ Barea further undercapitalized the squad with his flight due to family homelessness. “I haven’t seen my wife and children since February. I am desperate. I can’t take it anymore, ”Barea announced before flying back to Dallas, understanding the last game that remained to be played as an expendable procedure. “I cannot value the suffering of someone who is far from his family, but I was very surprised by the moment he chose to leave. As a coach I am hurt by his decision. It has left us in a dramatic situation in the outside game ”, explained Cuspinera. Already without Barea came the ninth consecutive defeat and the triumph of Bilbao Basket that certified the decline of the student team.
To the constant mess and depersonalization of the squad – of a team without a recognized sports director since the departure of Willy Villar a year ago – is added the perpetual economic crisis. “The risk of disappearance has not yet been resolved,” acknowledged the president, Fernando Galindo, a year ago, after closing a capital increase that was just a patch on the club’s coffers. “Since 2010 we have reduced the debt from 14 million to seven, but paying 1.4 million annually leaves us without a budget. We do not want to be forgiven a single euro, but we ask for some facility so that, instead of having to pay it off in four years, to be able to face it in seven, eight or 10, “Galindo explained then, appealing to renegotiation of the debt with the Tax Agency to give viability to the economic rescue. Unlike what happened at Joventut de Badalona with the Grifols family, at Estudiantes there was no agreement with any major investor. The situation was prolonged and the results have been repeated.
On Wednesday at the Magariños track, where the 1,000 boys and girls from the student quarry play and train, the club officials will explain the roadmap to face the new scenario after relegation. The first that seems to be consummated in the 73-year history of Estudiantes.
‘Playoffs’ for the title
Meanwhile, in the upper part of the classification, the quarterfinal crosses of the playoffs for the title. Real Madrid-Gran Canaria, Barça-Joventut, Tenerife-San Pablo Burgos and Valencia-Baskonia are the best of three matches (as well as the semifinals and the final), which will begin to be played on Monday, May 31.
Unicaja, who fell at Carpena against Madrid (90-96), remains out of the top-8 for the first time in eight years. Laso’s men close the regular league with a balance of 34 wins and two losses, none away, two competition records. Being a League of 19 teams, the Whites improve the 32-2 with which they closed the regular phase of the 2013-2014 season and sign the most winning season in the history of the ACB.