By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
One year after the Berlin job revealed that Dimitris Itoudis was the man behind it, this time around the missing EuroLeague cup has ended up in the hands of his one-time mentor in “the profession” of lifting trophies.
Yes, the mysterious Keyser Söze in this case is none other than Zeljko Obradovic. It would have been more than obvious for him to take the cup one year ago, after stating in Berlin that “I have said to Itoudis during the preseason that we will meet in the final”. But Itoudis was Obradovic’s best man, and so the cup stayed “in the family”.
That changed this year as the EuroLeague trophy went missing from day one. Painstaking investigation showed all roads leading to Istanbul, where surely enough, the trophy finally surfaced last weekend in the raised arms of Obradovic, out of reach for everyone else. His nefarious long-term scheme had ended the way he had planned it. The last five arrests made by the authorities were futile again, leading to another dead-end, as Obradovic enjoyed the last laugh. Until next time…
Kyle Hines: He couldn’t make CSKA avoid the comeback by Olympiacos Piraeus in Friday’s semifinal, but with his 14 points and 7 rebounds, he helped his gang prevail over Real Madrid on the final day to take third place. The stolen cup couldn’t be recovered by the Russians, but “Sir Hines” and his posse still walk away from Istanbul with the respect they deserve.
Nikola Kalinic: This Serb thug saved the best for last. He was a one-man wrecking crew with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals against Madrid in their Friday night scrap. Then he kept it going into Sunday’s battle royale against Olympiacos with 17 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists that were key for the final triumph of Fenerbache. Nobody could stop him, while he stopped everyone that got in his path.
Ekpe Udoh: The dominator. Nobody was more fearsome that him during those three days in Istanbul. He was a human tornado in collecting 18 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 blocks in the massacre against Madrid. Then, less than 48 hours later, he rolled like thunder over Olympiacos with 10 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 blocks. When the dust settled, he had emerged as the true earth-shaker of the Fenerbahce gang.
Bogdan Bogdanovic: Shooters shoot, as they say, but this especially sharp hit-man did what he had to do on the biggest of stages and at precisely the most effective moments. With his 14 points against Madrid and 17 against Olympiacos, he was the top marksman for the last team standing, playing his role in the Fenerbache assault without missing a beat. Like all the best ones, you know he is coming for you, but you just can’t stop him.
Vassilis Spanoulis: The don was there and so was his favorite victim, CSKA. He didn’t hesitate to shoot when it counted and despite having “just” 14 points in the semifinal, he was the one who delivered once again the killing blow. That was not the story on Sunday however, but he has already vowed to be back the next summit of Usual Suspects, in Belgrade.