Some people say that you create your own luck, and after Rudy Fernandez of Real Madrid flipped in a one-hander from way downtown to beat host Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 73-74 before its 18,003 fans on Thursday, several of the protagonists offered perspective to that twist of fate.
"We had the luck on our side with Rudy's shot," Sergio Llull said. "He had no other choice, time was running out and the final play didn't go the way we planned, but this is basketball."
For Madrid boss Pablo Laso, the shot that gave Madrid its only lead after 0-3 was the culmination of his team playing its way back into the game over the last three quarters, after having trailed by 18 points at the end of the first one.
"At the end, it's hard to say, but the last shot is what decided one game that was very clear for Panathinaikos in the first quarter. And we played better in the other three quarters," Laso said. "We stayed mentally tough until the last shot."
For Panathinaikos coach Rick Pitino, it was a question of his team allowing Madrid to get to the point that luck became a factor.
"I think the defense we played [on the last shot] was outstanding, and I have no qualms about that," he said. "When I look at the game, I know why we lost. We let luck become an element. We let a lucky shot become an element."
Pitino recalled that Nick Calathes had banked in a game-winner for his team at CSKA Moscow to start the month of March. "We won a lucky game on the road, and we lost at home with a lucky shot," he said.
Laso agreed that Panathinaikos played very good defense on the last play, too. But he also put four guards out on the floor – Fernandez was theoretically the power forward on the play – and advised his players that Panathinaikos would likely switch on all screens, leaving a one-on-one situation to decide the game, which is exactly what happened.
"It was a shot I can make once in 100 tries," Fernandez said, "but I am very happy for the win."
Fernandez declared it the best game-winner of his career, but then he remembered his second EuroLeague game, way back in 2006. He was playing for Joventut Badalona, which was inbounding the ball with .1 second on the clock, not enough time to even catch and shoot. So Fernandez just tipped in an alley-oop pass for the win.
As they also say: Some guys have all the luck.