Few could guess that the substitute for the most decisive player in Europe in a classic was going to be a 16-year-old boy. Much less that, in the absence of Edy Tavares, Ismaila Diagne was going to have a great time against Barça and -with the permission of Vincent Poirier-, he was going to become the great protagonist of the evening at the WiZink Center. He presented himself to the world with the stands surrendered, nine points and eight rebounds and several records of precocity pulverized.

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Without Tavares but with Poirier and the child Diagne: Real Madrid returns to knock down a Barça without doing

  • Writing: LUCAS SÁEZ-BRAVO Madrid

Without Tavares but with Poirier and the child Diagne: Real Madrid returns to knock down a Barça without doing

The boy, physically impressive (2.14 meters) did not stop smiling. And the white costume felt part of his party. Chus Mateo, who confessed at a press conference that he really did not know that the Senegalese was 16 years old (he turns 17 at the end of December) had made the decision to start him – "if it had gone wrong, Chus Mateo is crazy because he has taken a 16-year-old boy," he joked – another youth player who debuts, and Ismaila (that's how his teammates know him) sucked Jan Vesely: Within five minutes he had grabbed seven rebounds, five of them offensive.

Born in 2006 and arrived at the white quarry in children (2019), the left-handed Diagne was becoming the youngest player to debut in a Barça-Real Madrid of Liga Endesa (he was already the second youngest to debut with that shirt last May). Surpassing, no less, than Luka Doncic, when in 2015, also at the WiZink Center, he played a classic with just a few more days: 16 years, 9 months and 28 days. Only they have debuted in such a clash being under 17. With 16 efficiency in 13:26 minutes of play (nine points, eight rebounds), according to ACB data only four players have reached double digits of valuation in Liga Endesa being younger than him: Bassala Bagayoko, Ricky Rubio, Luka Doncic and Usman Garuba.

"The team needed it. Young players don't play because they're young. They do it to be good and it is easy to put the good ones. If I had played badly, I wouldn't have played so much. He is working very well, "admitted his coach, who also highlighted the other academy player in dynamics, the promising Hugo González, yesterday not called and other pearls that were seen in preseason as Egor Demin (Russian base) and Mitar Bosnjakovic (Serbian forward) and the already settled Eli Ndiaye, "a player of absolute rotation". "They are going to make us lengthen the rotations," said Mateo who has lost up to four players from the previous year (Hanga, Cornelie, Williams-Goss and Anthony Randolph) and has only signed Facundo Campazzo.

"I'm happy because the guy works well. It's a reward for young people and what we want to do with them. The sense of the quarry. If people don't come out, there's no point. There is a very good job behind, "said Chus Mateo about the excellent training work of a Real Madrid that has become in recent years a fishing ground for the NBA.

It is the fifth consecutive victory of Real Madrid so far this year, two in Supercopa and three in ACB. The second triumph against a Barça that again left tremulous signs and that had a Roger Grimau with an evident gesture of concern in his subsequent assessments. "We haven't been well... We've lost control and we haven't had enough energy either. We lack a way," he said and, when asked about the poor contribution of Willy Hernangómez, his star signing, he referred to the collective: "We are all screwed, because losing against Madrid screws us."

  • Luka Doncic
  • Ricky Rubio