Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv is the new king of Europe!
The city of Milan was painted yellow on Sunday as Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv bested Real Madrid 98-86 in overtime for its sixth European championship! After hitting the game-winning layup in the semifinals, Tyrese Rice, who scored 21 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, was named the bwin MVP for the 2014 Final Four. Tel Aviv shook off three consecutive losses in the Euroleague Championship Game to become the 2014 Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion. Some 10,000 Maccabi fans flooded the stands at Mediolanum Forum and practically willed Coach David Blatt’s team to victory. It was the first Championship Game to go to overtime since 1969 between CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid. The instant classic of a game featured 19 lead changes and seven ties after halftime alone. The win tied Maccabi with CSKA Moscow, which it defeated in Friday’s semifinal, and Panathinaikos Athens for the second-most continental titles in European basketball history; Madrid is the Euroleague’s winningest team with eight titles. Maccabi also ended a six-game losing streak against Los Blancos and avenged an 89-85 loss to Madrid in the 1980 championship game. Besides Rice’s heroics, Alex Tyus collected 12 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks, while Ricky Hickman had 18 points, Devin Smith hit for 15 and David Blu, who won his second Euroleague crown with Maccabi after the 2004 title, added 14 points. The freshly-crowned Euroleague season bwin MVP Sergio Rodriguez led Madrid with 21 points while Rudy Fernandez had 15 points and 8 rebounds. The record eight-time champion Real Madrid lost in its second consecutive final and is still looking for its first Euroleague title since 1995.
First quarter: Great starts for Bourousis, Schortsanitis
Rudy opened the scoring with a triple, and Sofoklis Schortsanitis scored from close range for Maccabi. Fernandez made a pair of free throws for a 5-2 edge, and Ioannis Bourousis had 3 blocks in less than three minutes to set the defensive tone for Madrid. But Maccabi came out strong on defense, not allowing a basket for almost four minutes, while Schortsanitis, Yogev Ohayon and Devin Smith all scored from close range, giving Maccabi the lead, 5-8. Bourousis snapped Madrid's drought with 2 shots from the line, but Smith nailed a three-pointer and then banked in a mid-range jumper for a 7-13 cushion. Fernandez answered with his second triple of the game, and Felipe Reyes scored a pair of quick layups that put Madrid back in front. A layup from Bourousis capped a 9-0 run, but Alex Tyus had a put-back dunk to round out the scoring in the first quarter at 16-15.
Second quarter: After Madrid’s 19-2 charge, Blu rallies Maccabi to within 2
Madrid had a successful start to the quarter, with Fernandez leaping above everybody for a monster put-back dunk, before Sergio Rodriguez nailed a three-pointer to make it 21-15 and causing Maccabi coach David Blatt to call a timeout. But Reyes hit a baseline jumper, before a technical free throw from Rodriguez, and an alley-oop dunk from Marcus Slaughter helped extend the lead to 26-15. Blu snapped a 10-0 – and 19-2 – run with a pair of free throws, and Tyrese Rice added a basket-plus-foul, but Jaycee Carroll knocked one down from downtown to keep his team in control at 29-20. Madrid restored a double-digit advantage with a pair of baskets inside from Reyes, including a put-back after one of his 4 offensive rebounds in the quarter, but Rice had a layup that helped cut it back to 33-26. After Reyes scored from close range again, Blu nailed a long jumper and added a couple of free throws, before burying a last second three-pointer to get Maccabi within 35-33 at halftime.
Third quarter: 10 lead changes highlight the intensity
Just like in the previous two quarters, Fernandez scored first points in the third, as well, a three-pointer, but Schortsanitis answered with a three-point play. Bourousis scored a layup for Madrid, but Smith nailed a triple, Ricky Hickman followed it with a jumper as Maccabi regained the lead, 40-41. Madrid wasted no time to get back in front, with Mirotic driving for a layup, and Darden knocked down a three-pointer. But Hickman nailed one from downtown as well, and the teams traded leads again with tip-ins from Tyus on one end, and Bourousis on the other, to make it 47-47. Smith and Rodriguez exchanged triples before Schortsanitis scored a layup for a 50-51 edge. The lead-changing trend continued in the closing minutes of the quarter, too, as Fernandez made a pair of foul shots, and after Hickman scored a fastbreak layup, Rodriguez drove for a layup-plus-foul. It was the eighth consecutive score that caused a lead to change hands, and gave Madrid a 55-53 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
Fourth quarter: 40 minutes can’t separate these teams
Tyus started the fourth quarter with a big two-handed slam, but Rodriguez nailed a triple on the other end a 58-55 lead. However, Hickman drove for a layup and Rice got a lucky bounce on a three-pointer to put Maccabi ahead 58-60. Mirotic and Blu traded shots from long range, and after Schortsanitis fouled out with just under six minutes to go, Rodriguez nailed a corner three to make it 64-63. Mirotic extended the slim margin by splitting free throws, and Darden’s crafty move after a drive made it 67-63. Hickman drove the baseline, ending Maccabi’s run of three minutes without a score, and Rice drove the lane for a floater, tying things up at 67-67 with exactly 3:07 to go in the fourth quarter. After a timeout, Tyus made a put-back dunk. After Mirotic answered with a put-back of his own for another tie, Blu scored from close range and Rice drove for a layup that gave Maccabi a 69-73 edge with 58 seconds remaining. After a Madrid timeout, Rodriguez went to the free throw line and made both shots. Madrid made a defensive stand and Bourousis hit both free throws with 21.4 seconds left to tie it at 73-73. Maccabi had the last possession, but a jumper from Rice hit the rim and the game went into overtime.
Overtime: Rice carries Maccabi to the title!
In the extra session, Madrid stayed cool at the free throw line, with Mirotic and Bourousis each making a pair, and with Rice nailing a triple in between. After Rice got to the line and sank both shots, he then stole the ball, kept it, and nailed a three-pointer for a 77-81 lead. Mirotic continued Madrid’s run from the foul line, but Rice threw a pass for an alley-oop by Tyus, then made 2 more free throws to make it 79-85. Tel Aviv continued with its tough defense and control of the defensive glass, not allowing a field goal. Tyus made a huge block on an attempt from Rodriguez, and Rice hit 2 free throws for a 9-point game, 79-88. Rodriguez hit a triple, but Tyus split free throws twice to keep Maccabi with a comfortable 82-90 advantage and possession with 53 seconds to go. The lead reached double digits with more free throws from Rice, as the yellow shirts in the crowd slowly started celebrating victory. An Ohayon slam in the closing second wrapped up a historic weekend for Maccabi!
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Igor Petrinovic, Euroleague.net in Milan