Turkish Airlines Euroleague
May 19, 2013
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Tel Aviv 2004
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THE EUROLEAGUE HISTORY ARCHIVE
PRAGUE 2006: CSKA WINS AGAIN AFTER 35 YEARS
CSKA MOSCOW 73-69 MACCABI ELITE
CSKA Moscow won the Euroleague crown for the first time in 35 years and ended Maccabi Tel Aviv's two-year reign as champions with a 73-69 victory over in the continental title game on Sunday at sold-out Sazka Arena in Prague. Theodoros Papaloukas scored 18 points and dished 7 assists to lead the winners and earn MVP honors. CSKA, playing in its fourth consecutive Final Four, but only its first championship game since 1973, denied Maccabi a chance to become just the third team in Euroleague history to win three straight titles, a feat that still belongs only to ASK Riga and Split. The victory adds a fifth continental trophy to CSKA's collection, matching Varese and Maccabi for second place on the all-time list of winners. CSKA broke the game with a 0-13 run to get a 35-30 lead at halftime. Even when Maccabi rallied and got a 56-58 edge with 8 minutes to go, Trajan Langdon and Matjaz Smodis scored from downtown in a 10-1 run which put CSKA in charge for good. Maccabi never surrender and rallied within 71-69, but Langdon made free throws to seal the CSKA win. David Vanterpool added 16 points, Matjaz Smodis had 12, Trajan Langdon 11 and Aleksey Savrasenko 10 for CSKA. Will Solomon led Maccabi with 20 points, Jamie Arnold had 14 and Anthony Parker 10 in defeat. CSKA coach won his third Euroleague title and improved its overall record against Maccabi to 9-0.
CSKA Moscow 73-69 Maccabi Elite
Winterthur FCB 82-87 Tau Ceramica
Winterthur FCB 75-84 CSKA Moscow
Maccabi Elite 85-70 Tau Ceramica
INTERVIEW: THEODOROS PAPALOUKAS, CSKA MOSCOW
At the start of the new millennium, CSKA Moscow point guard Theodoros Papaloukas began carving out a new and defining role in European basketball. Papaloukas became one of the first dominant sixth men in the sport, a player who could watch the start of the game on the bench and then come in and take over where needed to steer his side to victory. Papaloukas's arrival at CSKA sparked a new golden age at the proud club, much of which was geared towards winning the 2005 Euroleague Final Four that was held in Moscow. But when the team fell short, changes came quickly. Heading into the new season, CSKA was not on the short list of title favorites. But Papaloukas blossomed under new coach Ettore Messina and helped bring the new players and the old guard together to help build the new squad into a Final Four caliber team. Once there, Papaloukas stepped up with two of his best performances of the season to lead CSKA to its first Euroleague crown in 35 years, topping it off with Final Four MVP honors.
CSKA lost in the semifinals of a Final Four for the third year in a row in 2005 in Moscow, but made many changes over the summer, when you helped Greece win the European championships in Belgrade. How did you feel going into the new Euroleague season?
"It was hard because we had lost the Final Four in Moscow, our home town, the year before, after a great season in which everyone expected us to win the title. But whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That was our motto. We had the experience and we wanted to win. The team organization was at a very high level. And no one expected us to win the next one, in Prague. We took advantage of that. We really did what we had to do and had great timing. Sometimes, even with a great team, you don't do anything special, and it's just the right place and right moment to win. The team that year believed very much in itself, and that's why we won."
And of course, you guys lost the first two games of the regular season. Did you have any concerns then?
"The start was very hard because we were like a new team: new players, new coach, new tactics. We needed some time to adapt. So we lost two games and were disappointed, but I think we worked even harder after that."
After the team started playing well and winning consistently, the other key moment was when David Andersen was lost for the season.
"Whenever you lose a top player, it is difficult. The secret of the team, however, is that we have a lot of key players. Everybody is key. We all knew we would have to be even stronger, to be even tougher on the court and, most of all, even tougher mentally. We tried hard, and we did that. Thomas Van den Spiegel came in then and quickly helped us, but everyone helped fill the gap of David's injury."
One of the situations in Prague that few people know about was the sudden, serious illness to head coach Ettore Messina's little boy. During the semifinal victory over Barcelona, were you and the other players aware of the situation at all?
"Of course, we were all aware. Coach was coming to every meeting, practice and video session, but had to go right after to the hospital every time. It was hard for him, of course, but in those moments, we realized that some things are not as important as they look. Most important of all is the health of your family and friends. But we were so concentrated and believing in ourselves that on the court that it didn't affect us."
The two-time defending champs, Maccabi, comes out in the final and goes ahead 0-7 forcing you guys to take a timeout. CSKA didn't score in the first 4 minutes of the game. What happened in that timeout and after that brought you to the trophy?
"We were an experienced team, and we had played so many games at a high level that we had been in those situations before. It was not the first time, and for sure it was not going to be the last. We knew the situation. And we knew we had to play until the end. There was nothing to lose. This is basketball. No game goes all the time the way you planned it. If you think you are a big team, you have to prove it. You have to win also when playing bad. In fact, it's most important to be able to win not playing your best. We knew the game was 40 minutes, not 5 or 10. Maybe it was better that the final game went like that, because after we came back, we had the psychological advantage. And in big games, the psychology is very important. A big game is like a chess match. Often, it's not the physically stronger team that wins, but the one that is most strong mentally. You have to be ready for every possession, you have to take chances. I believe in that. I think we were mentally stronger than Maccabi in that final game."
Champions: 1958 to 2012
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List of teams, players, coaches
50 Years of European Basketball
Through the decades
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