By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Kaunas, Lithuania – For Isaiah Canaan who doesn’t have the right to compete in the Greek League due to the limit of non-Greek players and this was his last game for the season. Plus he had his birthday.
Sasha Vezenkov is the undisputed EuroLeague MVP. But, Sergio Llull is… Sergio Llull.
With just one made shot in the game, he had one kill and decided the outcome of the final, giving Real Madrid the 79-78 win and stunning Olympiacos.
Olympiacos with Vezenkov scoring 29 points and tying the record for a final in the modern EuroLeague era, plus Canaan adding 21 and tying the record for a final with five made threes couldn’t secure the win.
However, the old guard of Real Madrid made things happen with Sergio Rodriguez being the top scorer with 15 points. Edy Tavares had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds winning the Final Four MVP award, while Mario Hezonja added 12 points and Fabien Causeur had 11.
A walk turned into a dogfight
The game started with Olympiacos in control, getting a 19-10 advantage, and Isiah Canaan on the day of his birthday already scoring three three-pointers in four attempts after the first six minutes of action.
With another three, this time by Kostas Papanikolaou and a sweet hook by Sasha Vezenkov, Olympiacos pushed the lead to 24-14. The first quarter ended with Olympiacos being up by seven (24-17) after a shot by Mario Hezonja.
Things changed totally at the start of the second quarter. With Olympiacos’ shots not falling and Sergio Rodriguez entering the court, Real Madrid had a 14-5 run and the “Whites” got the 31-29 lead.
The tone of the game changed, Madrid got even a five-point cushion (45-40), but Olympiacos answered back and after a three by McKissic tied it all at 45. The first half ended with this score and Sergio Llull shooting an airball and Real Madrid using almost entirely a zone defense.
Vezenkov already had 15 points and Shaq McKissic 10 more for Olympiacos, while Mario Hezonja finished the first half with 12 points and Walter Tavares had seven points and seven rebounds already.
With nothing easy in the paint for both sides, the shooting contest continued with Olympiacos momentarily getting a 57-52 lead and closing the third period with a four-point lead (63-59).
And then Sasha Vezenkov scored his first three of the game having already 25 points and making the score 68-61.
The gym erupted with Olympiacos fans cheering, Real Madrid got a timeout with eight minutes left, and Fabien Causeur answered back also with a three.
Still, Olympiacos never let Real Madrid get into shooting distance entering the last four minutes leading 74-70. That changed only in the closing seconds, with Madrid having the ball with 12 seconds left trailing by one.
Sergio Llull took the ball and gave Real the 79-78 lead with just 3 seconds left. It proved enough with Kostas Sloukas missing at the buzzer.