The ACB Basketball League celebrated an unprecedented event this Sunday. Bassala Bagayoko broke the precocity record held by Ricky Rubio. The Mali kid became the youngest player to debut in the history of the championship. The 2.07 meter power forward made his debut with Fuenlabrada when he was 14 years, 7 months and 15 days old. His appearance for the first time in the highest category of basketball took place in the match of the 33rd day between his team and Real Madrid in the Fernando Martín pavilion. Thus surpassed the mark of Ricky Rubio, who debuted in the League on October 15, 2005 when he was 14 years, 11 months and 24 days in a game between his team, Joventut, and Granada. Bagayoko’s premiere contrasts in a season in which three players are over 40 years old: Albert Oliver (Obradoiro, 42 years and 10 months), Felipe Reyes (Real Madrid, 41 years and one month; he did not play yesterday) and Pau Gasol ( Barcelona, 40 years and 9 months). The oldest in the history of the competition are Darryl Middleton with 44 years and Mike Higgins, with 43.
Josep María Raventos, the Fuenlabrada coach, had to resort to several unusual players due to the six casualties that his team dragged. Bagayoko, who regularly plays for Fuenlabrada’s second team in the EBA League, the third division of Spanish basketball, appeared on the court with two minutes remaining in the first quarter. He was paired with Real Madrid forward Jeff Taylor, 31. In his first action he put a block to Taylor that the referees called a foul and shortly after he captured a rebound in attack and scored his first basket in the ACB with a spectacular dunk. He concluded the game with those two points, two rebounds and two personal fouls in the nine minutes and 11 seconds he played. “We have kept him for 10 minutes because he has trained very well, he is not afraid. From now on we have to continue taking care of him as the club is taking care of him, that his coaches continue to treat him as they are treating him and go little by little with him, ”said Josep María Raventós.
Fuenlabrada could not count for the match with six players from its squad: Ehigiator, Sander Vene, Marc García, Urtasun, Trimble and Chema González. The latter two have not yet recovered after testing positive for covid-19. Raventós added to the first team Bagayoko, who averages 8.6 points, 8 rebounds and a PIR of 14.6 in the EBA League, and Juanjo Santana, who averages 11 points, 6 rebounds and a PIR of 14. Also making his debut with Fuenlabrada was Cheik Diallo from Mali, a 24-year-old power forward, recently signed by Fuenlabrada from Saratov, Russian.
Bagayoko started playing in Spain with Santa Lucía de Tirajana (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria). In 2019 he dazzled in the Endesa Mini Cup, in which he competed with CB Canarias. That same year he won the Spanish children’s championship with the Canarian team. Shortly after he played for Basketball Alcalá and in a match against Real Madrid he scored 52 points. A short time later he signed for Fuenlabrada, where he has excelled in the subsidiary team. Scouts especially appreciate his agility, his aggressiveness under the hoops and his quickness to run around the court, in addition to his remarkable size. He is a player who has marked differences in the lower categories and who follows a good line of progression with the second of Fuenlabrada. His continuity in the first team will be at the expense of recovering from the numerous casualties he accumulates.
The match in Fuenlabrada was won 76-90 by Real Madrid, leader of the championship with 31 victories and one defeat. The best record so far is held by Barça with 31 wins and three defeats in the 2009-2010 season and Madrid’s best record in the ACB was in the 2013-2014 season, with 32 wins and 2 losses. The Madrid team also has a record with 16 away victories. Madrid, in a very difficult situation in the Euroleague – in the quarter-final tie they host Anadolu Efes 2-0 against on Tuesday – lost their only league game on December 27 at the WiZink Center against Barça, second in the table with 28 wins and four losses. Tavares, injured, could not play in Fuenlabrada, where Carroll stood out, with 20 points, Poirier and Rudy Fernández, with 13 points each.
14 years and 227 days. Bassala Bagayoko (Fuenlabrada, in 2021)
14 years and 359 days. Ricky Rubio (Joventut, in 2005)
15 years and 99 days. Ángel Rebolo (Breogán, in 1990)
15 years and 305 days. Carlos Alocén (Zaragoza, in 2016)
16 years and 9 days. Pablo Sánchez (Málaga, in 2018)
16 years and 61 days. Luka Doncic (Real Madrid, in 2015)