The current Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs format with best-of-five series was introduced in the 2008-09 season and on this day in 2009, the EuroLeague witnessed its first-ever Game 5. In the decider, Regal FC Barcelona topped fellow Spanish League squad Tau Ceramica 78-62 before a sellout crowd at Palau Blaugrana to book a ticket to the 2009 Final Four in Berlin.
Barcelona never trailed
Barcelona qualified for the Final Four for the first time since 2006 after overwhelming Tau in a game it led from start to finish. Barcelona opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter behind 11 points from Juan Carlos Navarro and maintained the margin. The hosts led 40-30 at halftime, and Tau got within 7 points twice in the third before David Andersen and Ersan Ilyasova combined on a 10-0 run that put the game out of reach. The lead peaked at 70-49 in the final quarter as Barcelona coasted to Berlin. Navarro and Ilyasova each finished with 19 points. Ilyasova also had 10 rebounds and 4 assists and Jaka Lakovic added 16 points for the winners. Tiago Splitter scored 19 points and Pete Mickeal 14 for Tau.
Ilyasova grabbing his mark
Barcelona center David Andersen became the first player to reach the Final Four with four different teams. He previously did it with Kinder Bologna, Montepaschi Siena and CSKA Moscow before Barcelona. Ilyasova's 10 total rebounds were enough to set a single-series record for total rebounds. He collected 43 in the five-game for a mark that still stands today and has only been matched once - in 2017 by Tyler Honeycutt for Anadolu Efes Istanbul in a series against Olympiacos Piraeus.
Historic Game 5
It marked the first time a team reached the Final Four after Game 5 of a playoff series. It was also only the second time in European basketball history that a series went to five games. The first time was in the 2001 EuroLeague Finals when Virtus Bologna also beat Tau Ceramica in a decider. In between those two games, the EuroLeague Playoffs were played in the best-of-three series format for four seasons, starting in 2005 and concluding in 2008.
There have been a total of 10 playoff series that went to a deciding Game 5 since the EuroLeague introduced the format. Even though it happened on average just under once a year, the fans witnessed at least one playoff Game 5 in eight of the last 11 seasons. Twice, in 2013 and again 2014, two series went the maximum five games. Interestingly, the home team has won each of those Game 5 deciders and only once in 10 games has the margin of victory been fewer than 8 points.
What happened next
Three weeks later at the Final Four in the German capital, Barcelona faced defending champion CSKA Moscow and lost 78-82 in the semifinals. Barcelona went on to place third that season after downing Olympiacos Piraeus 95-79 in the third-place game. A season later, Barcelona went back to the 2010 Final Four and won the title. The club from Vitoria-Gasteiz has reached the playoffs seven more times since 2009 and next reached the Final Four in 2016.