MVP for January: Guerschon Yabusele, Real Madrid

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A perfect start to the new year for Real Madrid, complete with a takeover of the top spot in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague standings, is finishing with another well-deserved accolade.

Euroleague Basketball’s choice for MVP of January is a first-time winner of the award, Real power forward Guerschon Yabusele. The newest member among a phalanx of French stars in the Spanish capital was essential to his team’s march on first place with a 4-0 record in January. Yabusele compiled the highest total performance index rating, 74, of all players on undefeated teams during the month. He led Real in both scoring and PIR in two of those games. And he finished the month starring in the double-overtime thriller that capped the team’s January 2022 takeoff to the top!

The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 17th season. Although statistics and performance index ratings are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team’s performance during the month in question. Yabusele is the first debut MVP of the Month this season and just the third player from France to take the honor, after his teammate Thomas Heurtel and Nando De Colo, who has won it three times.

Due to postponements, Real’s new year started late, on January 14, with a strong 89-74 Round 21 home win against Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in which Yabusele had 17 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists while making 7 of 7 two-point shots for a PIR of 27, his best yet in a Real uniform. Six days later, in Round 22, Yabusele contributed 12 points and 3 rebounds to Real’s identical 74-89 win on the road against ALBA Berlin. Back in the Spanish capital five days later, Yabusele was the team’s second-best scorer and rebounder, making 3 of 4 three-pointers among his 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal as Real shut down red-hot UNICS Kazan, 85-68, in a rescheduled Round 19 game. The team’s fourth EuroLeague game in 15 days was a Round 23 showdown against streaking AS Monaco that became the first double-overtime game of this season and just the 17th this century. Real was behind 66-60 with 1:30 left in regulation time when Yabusele nailed his third three-pointer of the night to spark a game-tying comeback that finished as an 84-90 victory. Yabusele led Real with 18 points and added 10 rebounds for his second EuroLeague double-double ever and another PIR of 27.

Yabusele had already made himself a full-time starter and a fan favorite in Madrid before his and the team’s tear through January. At 18-3, Real now has matched the best record in the EuroLeague through 21 games since the round-robin format went into effect in 2016. Yabusele’s month-long averages of 15.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 18.5 PIR while shooting 64.0% from inside the arc and 47.1% beyond were the most consequential contribution to his team’s surge. And in the city with the most continental titles ever, Real’s fans will be sure to applaud their new star’s solid work when Yabusele receives his MVP for January trophy at an upcoming game.

Quelle: Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, 31. Januar 2022

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