Chris Singleton was not long ago one of the best players in Europe, one of these decisive Americans, that you always want to have on your side. Now, 31 years old, he works as a luxury high school in the almighty Anadolu Efes. A team from which Shane Larkin and Vasilije Micic are always mentioned, above all. But in the fifth game of the quarterfinals of this Euroleague 2020-21, when the pressure devoured Efes and the stars of the team played with very little confidence, It was Singleton who served first as support and then as executor. The power forward played a simply formidable game, in attack and defense. Always focused, always energetic, and always with his head held high when his team’s sign language was most concerning. His statistical sheet was the rubric to a colossal performance: 26 points, 8 rebounds, 38 PIR. On the most important day of the year, at least until the Final Four in Cologne, for his team.
It’s certainly not the first time Singleton has risen to the occasion in a key match: in 2016, Lokomotiv Kuban kicked off and got into the Final Four at the expense of Barcelona. It was in five games and after coming back from 2-1 against with two wins in a row, the first at the Palau and the second at Russia. In that key duel, Singleton had 16 points and 12 rebounds and a PIR of 27. Stepping through China after exiting the NBA (No. 18 in the draft in 2011, Washington Wizards), Singleton ended up at Panathinaikos, where he played two excellent seasons before joining Barça in 2018. At the Palau he left his signature as a competitive, tough and talented player, but knee problems reduced his impact. Barça did not offer him the renewal (8 points, 4.4 rebounds on average in the Euroleague) and Singleton was free. In September 2019 he signed for Efes.
In the tie against Real Madrid he averaged 7.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and a PIR of 12.2. And he has appeared in the key game, in which he was by far the best player. A little revenge because in 2018 they fell to Panathinaikos in the quarterfinals, precisely against Real Madrid that ended up being champions.
And maybe also a memory of the 2019 Copa del Rey final, one of the most controversial matches that have been played in Spanish basketball. It was a Barça-Real Madrid at the WiZink Center that the Catalans won in an unforgettable final: after a tremendous comeback by the Catalans, the last ten seconds of extra time were reached with a 90-92 that seemed definitive when Singleton, precisely, He received a counter ball and advanced towards the hoop to, apparently, sentence the final. But then he took a brutal blow to the head from Anthony Randolph, a fault that the referees did not point out in an incomprehensible way.
Then Jaycee Carroll scored a 2 + 1 and, with 93-92 and 4 seconds to go, Ante Tomic left Gustavo Ayón behind and tried to score. Randolph put a plug that the referees considered illegal due to an error of judgment that could have been corrected with the video reviews. The basket was valid, Barça won and Singleton won … with Randolph’s blow on the field. Now the power forward of Real Madrid was separated by injury but that of Efes, formerly of Barça, was on the track. And he was the most decisive player.
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