The Oklahoma City Thunder’s preseason European tour began with a 142-137 overtime loss to Real Madrid last night at the Barclaycard Center in Madrid. In their first game of the season, the squad was paced by five-time NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook, newcomer Victor Oladipo and forward Enes Kanter, with 18 points from 22 minutes, 34 points and five assists from 33 minutes and 29 points and 10 rebounds from 33 minutes respectively.
Despite being in control of the game for the first three quarters, the Thunder then allowed the nine-time Euroleague champion to complete their comeback with a three-pointer by Sergio Llull at the buzzer, which sent the game into overtime. During overtime, Real Madrid then managed to prevail over the 2016 NBA Western Conference finalists, giving the home team their second victory in eight games against NBA teams.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will now travel to Barcelona where they will take on FC Barcelona Lassa on Wednesday Oct 5 at the Palau Sant Jordi.
Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook commented on his team’s performance after the game, “We have a lot of new faces. We have some things in mind, some different things to pick up on but we’ll get there. Right now it’s preseason and we’re trying to play to get ready for the season and make sure we’re clicking for when the season starts.”
Oklahoma City Coach Billy Donovan also spoke after the game. When asked about the performance of new players such as former FC Barcelona Lassa’s Alex Abrines, he said, “They are all very good players. They are learning a lot when it comes to the NBA game – the defensive coverages, a lot of things that they’re going to learn from the film. I was really proud of the way they competed, the way they played, there was a lot of good things to take from this.”
On where he sees his team going for the rest of the season, Coach Donovan said, “It’s so hard to say, we a work in progress. We’ve got a lot of new faces on our team. I think anytime you start a season in any sport in my opinion, it’s a journey. Hopefully for us, it’s a journey that starts with growth and improvement and continues on that path. I never like projecting where our team can be or should be this early in the season.”
Real Madrid Coach Pablo Laso expressed his pride in seeing his team beating an NBA team, “We were able to stay in the game and in the second half our performance was much better. We had that lucky play at the end to go in to overtime, and then in the overtime we stayed together and finally got a big victory. We’re beating an NBA team, all our fans will probably feel very proud about our team after this victory.”
Speaking to the media after the game, Westbrook shared his thoughts on the Thunder’s newest editions: “It was good; he [Oladipo] did a good job of playing aggressive. That’s the most important thing about competing, being aggressive, that’s what we need him to do.”
Talking about the new faces and the team in general, Westbrook outlined the target of the team this year: “We have some things in mind, some different things to pick up on but we’ll get there. Right now it’s pre-season and we’re trying to play to get ready for the season and make sure we’re clicking for when the season starts.”
After his first game in a Thunder jersey, Victor Oladipo spoke of his excitement at being a member of the Thunder: “Just to be here in general is a great opportunity for me, it’s a humbling and blessing experience- and I’m truly thankful to be here and to be able to wear this jersey. I’m going to make the most of the opportunity, I’ve still got a lot of room to grow, a lot of room to get better- it was only the first game of the year. A lot of room to improve and I’m looking forward to doing that.”
The The Oklahoma City Thunder will take on FC Barcelona Lassa on Wednesday Oct 5 as part of NBA Global Games Europe 2016 presented by BBVA. You can watch the game live from 7:30pm on BT Sport2
Source: Pitch London
Image: Getty / NBA