By Panos Katsiroumpas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The team’s president, Josean Querejeta, has found dozens of great players in recent years, with most of them continuing their careers in other places after their stint in Vitoria.
It’s no coincidence that, from the team that reached the Final Four in Berlin (2016) just fourteen months ago, there are only a few players who are still on Baskonia’s roster. So, it seems quite reasonable to assume that this year’s great changeup that is taking place in Basque country isn’t something unexpected.
In this flurry of changes, the team’s fans can enjoy the return of a player they loved dearly for the years he wore their favorite team’s jersey, as he was present when they won their last championship back in 2010.
We are talking, of course, about Marcelinho Huertas, who, after realizing his dream of playing in the NBA, decided to return to Europe to give perhaps the last performances of his career. Performances that will include plenty of skills in passing, great perception and very good reading of the game, sprinkled with a little bit of scoring too. But before we talk about the Brazilian’s competitive features, let’s take a look at his resume.
Who he is
The Brazilian point guard was born in 1983 in Sao Paulo and is approaching his 35th birthday. He started playing basketball in a school in Texas and his professional career in the country in which he was born.
After three years with Pinheiros and Sao Paulo he decided to cross the Atlantic to play basketball in Badalona. That team is not just a random team, since, around that time, Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio were also taking their first steps there. It’s a team that has a tradition of teaching basketball the right way and churning out a lot of players.
Marcelinho made his name there, then was transferred to Bilbao – this stint is not the best – and then to Fortitudo Bologna, one of the most historic teams in Italy. He played quite well in Bologna, drawing attention from Vitoria, with Baskonia acquiring him in 2009.
That’s where he played the best basketball of his career, got established in the Brazilian national team as well and, generally, came to be considered one of the best guards in Europe at that time. Baskonia, as was their habit and as it still is, sold him to Barcelona, with him having consistently good seasons in the four years between 2011-2015.
In 2015, he decided to make his dream a reality, crossing over to the other side of the Atlantic to play with the Lakers for two years, a team that wasn’t going through its most glorious years at the time. As a result, he didn’t find the role that he would have wanted, with his return to Europe this year probably being reasonable.
The truth is that Marcelinho is a player who is more suited to European basketball. He’s not especially athletic and, at the same time, he’s not so good in creating plays for himself. Perhaps these were the two main reasons why the Brazilian didn’t get more playing time in the NBA.
For the European style of basketball, he’s perfect. This is true because in Europe, the whole game revolves a lot around the pick-and-roll and the different expressions of this particular system on the court.
Marcelinho is an intelligent player with a highly evolved sense of perception and passing on the court. Especially in a team that is going to be well worked in the pick-and-roll, both in terms of movement on the part of the big men as well as having the right distances and positioning, he can do miracles.
The Brazilian is very good at reading defenses, he’s calm when he takes over as floor general, and he knows when to pass and which will be the best choice.
He can pass well either close to the basket or out along the perimeter, and he knows how to make the best use of his teammates. Overall, the understanding and perception that he has for the game are his greatest assets.
Shooting and floaters
Offensively, we wouldn’t say he’s a constant threat for rival defenses. He doesn’t go after individual plays and usually, his offensive game revolves around screens. He’s a pretty good shooter from the perimeter, but he doesn’t shoot with great proficiency. Usually, he’ll choose to move behind the screen and shoot his favorite mid-range jumpers or the floaters, which he can do very well.
Defense: Intelligent but lacks in athleticism
In defense, he mostly plays with his brain. Fast feet and explosive opponents always created a problem for him, but as time passed he learned how to use his hands and his body in a smart way so that he could steal balls and win battles. Even in defense, his greatest asset is his perception and reading of plays and of opponents’ moves. Now, of course, with the years have left their mark, there is a question as to the extent to which he’s still able to go after explosive guards, defend well on switches and break up his opponents’ screens. He’s crafty, he’s smart and he might find a way to respond.
Overall, we could say that he clearly has the quality and the talent to have some good years in the EuroLeague and to contribute to Baskonia, the team he can now call his second home.