CSKA holds on in a classic
Efes climbed back from another double-digit deficit as Krunoslav Simon and Micic hit three-pointers. Efes then committed a big mistake, however, as an inbounds pass sailed into the backcourt for a turnover and Clyburn put back a CSKA miss. An unsportsmanlike foul by Hackett on Dunston led to a four-point Efes possession with 2 minutes left as Larkin came back with a double-pump layup to make it 81-85. Higgins got to the line and hit 2 for CSKA and then Larkin shot an airball. A final prolonged defensive effort by CSKA inside the final minute, due to Efes getting offensive rebounds, proved the final straw. It was an appropriate deciding play for CSKA, whose mental focus has been its defining character this season, and served it all the way to the finish. The Russian powerhouse is going back home with its eighth EuroLeague title, second only to Real Madrid. And this one is as deserved as any before it. Congratulations to the champs, CSKA Moscow!
Oh, De Colo!
Right in the most critical moment of the game, CSKA is rebounding really well at the defensive end and De Colo is delivering like the EuroLeague superstar he is. He reads a mismatch and drives to the basket with great class, then hits a three-pointer. De Colo knows he has been on the bench for many minutes in the second half for this particular reason – to make the difference in crunch time. He will finish the Final Four as the third-best top scorer of all-time in the Final Four, behind Nikos Galis and J.R. Holden. The main question right now is: how will Efes be able to stop him? CSKA leads 71-83 with over 4 minutes left and is close to sealing the outcome.
Hackett: going for glory
Daniel Hackett has been to a Final Four – with Olympiacos Piraeus – but did not have the opportunity to play due to injury. Being so close to the title, Hackett is bringing out his best basketball early in the fourth quarter, adding another weapon to CSKA's arsenal. The Russian powerhouse has already hit 13 three-point shots – tying a single-game championship game record – in 18 attempts. Even with that, Efes is far from being done, as Dunston has the dunk of the night so far and bring his team within 69-73. Down to the wire? We will see: De Colo is back, well-rested.
Ataman tries and tries, finds answers
Efes just cannot match Efes's physicality and its toughest frontcourt player, two-time EuroLeague Best Defender Dunston, has 4 fouls. Coach Ergin Ataman bring Sertac Sanli off the bench for size and intimidation, then changes his mind and opts for a extremely small lineup with Moerman at center and Simon at the 'four' position. It works, as Efes raises its defensive pressure. Defense brings confidence on offense as Larkin beats the third quarter buzzer with a wild shot. This is far from being over, EuroLeague fans! CSKA leads 62-68 after three quarters!
Itoudis reads the game, CSKA delivers
So far, it has been the most critical move of the game. CSKA played with no stars, but Hackett, Higgins, Clyburn, Kurbanov and Hines were all over the place on defense, forcing Efes to shoot at the end of the clock. Tired and a bit frustrated, Efes is allowing many open shots, especially in the right corner. Clyburn and Higgins each buried a three-pointer from that spot to let CSKA take off, 52-63. CSKA's warriors – all experienced, physical and with eyes on the ultimate prize – are making the difference now. Efes now needs a second comeback and is trying to ignite the same way it did before, bringing Dunston back despite four fouls to improve at both ends.
CSKA bets on physicality
Statiscally speaking, the third quarter is usually excellent for Efes, winning it 23 out of 36 times with a combined winning margin of +131 this season. CSKA, however, outscored Efes by 21-14 in the third quarter of thier game in the Russian capital early in the season. Things were different in Istanbul, as Efes prevailed 23-21. So far Efes has found a go-to guy in Simon but he is not getting any help. With De Colo and Rodriguez sitting on the bench right now , CSKA has a very physical lineup, trying to get Efes tired to bring its best offensive players back ready to deliver.
Key first-half stats
A quick loss at the stats tells us that CSKA is heavily relying on its outside shooting (8-of-12, 66.7%) and has succeeded at stopping Efes's run-and-gun tempo. The Turkish team had no fast break points in the first half. Will and not giving up has allowed Efes to stay in the game by pulling down 8 offensive rebounds and turning those into 9 second-chance points. In other words, CSKA needs to lock its defensive board and opt for a more diverse offense after having hit just 7-of-17 two-point shots until now (41.2%). At the same time, Efes must play better defense around the three-point line and try to run the floor in order to feel more comfortable and confident. The second half is here!
Dunston rescues Efes
After hitting 8 of its opening 10 three-point shots, CSKA's offense cooled down a little bit and Efes took full advantage of it. Efes improved under the baskets with Dunston back on the floor and put more pressure on the ball with Dogus Balbay at point guard. Dunston drew a couple of shooting fouls, made his free throws, found Krunoslav Simon for a triple, and grabbed a rebounds that eventually allowed Simon to score again. All of a sudden, Efes was back in the game, 36-41, and its man in the middle had to do a lot to do with it. Vasilije Micic's first three-pointer and 3 free throws by Larkin suddenly had Efes back in the game, 42-44, at halftime. Dunston had 3 offensive rebounds and Efes 8 to CSKA's 4 total at the half.
Fresh frontcourt helps CSKA
CSKA is playing with extreme toughness on defense, and having fresh players in a championship game definitely helps. Kyle Hines saw limited playing time – 17 minutes – against Real Madrid on Friday, and Joel Bolomboy played less than 3 minutes. Both have been on the court since the final minutes of the first quarter, powering the boards, setting hard screens and keeping Efes scoreless for more than 3 minutes. CSKA leads 20-34 and has full control.
CSKA takes upper hand
CSKA scored 24 points in the opening 9 minutes and the worst news for Efes was that Nando De Colo had just 2 points and Sergio Rodriguez had not even stepped on court by then. Will Clyburnm Cory Higgins and Nikita Kurbanov combined to make 5 of 5 three-point shots and Kyle Hines – with no name on his jersey, a mistake corrected after a timeout – came off the bench to register a huge block on Shane Larkin. CSKA, finding many ways to score, reached its first double-digit lead, 17-29, with everything working in its favor to finish the quarter ahead 20-29.
Ex-teammates go at each other
CSKA has been tactically smart at the start of the game, guarding Efes's big men with former teammates: Othello Hunter and Bryant Dunston played together in Olympiacos Piraeus, Will Clyburn and Adrien Moerman were Darussafaka Istanbul teammates. Nikita Kurbanov is changing in most pick-and-roll to avoid Efes guards and is guarding Vasilije Micic one-on-one after every basket. But Efes relies on Shane Larkin to take the lead, 15-12. James Anderson is his team's x-factor with 8 points.
Efes has extra fan support
There were little doubt about it, but the team presentation revealed that most Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul fans are showing their Turkish pride in a very special game for the country and are supporting Efes in its first EuroLeague Championship Game. KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz fans are also everywhere, and almost all of them are supporting Efes, whose fans return the favor by singing Baskonia songs. Indeed, CSKA has a good numbers of its own fans in the stands, but Efes has the biggest support in this game. More Efes fans came from Istanbul, most of them wearing commemorative Final Four jerseys with "F4" instead of a number. What an atmosphere!
Efes, CSKA for the trophy!
The time has come! The showdown you have waiting for all season long is finally here – the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game! CSKA Moscow will try to win its eighth EuroLeague crown. Four of them were won before 1969 and the other three after 2006, so it is a chance for the Russian powerhouse to find a balance between the 20th and the 21st century. Anadolu Efes Istanbul is it its first EuroLeague Championship Game, and looks for the ultimate comeback season, after finishing last in the 2017-18 campaign. It is all has been said and done, so it is time to sit back, relax and enjoy one of the best games basketball can offer in 2019. It's CSKA vs. Efes for the EuroLeague crown!
Campazzo makes Final Four, Real history
He found Fabien Causeur for a wide open three-point shot that finished a perfect Real offense. That was his 13th assist - a new Final Four record. Soon after that, Campazzo connected with Causeur again for a three-point play. His 14th assist was a new club record, which Campazzo had previously shared with Sergio Rodriguez. In a couple of minutes, Campazzo shattered two records - one in the Final Four and another one for the winningest club in European basketball. How cool is that? Madrid broke the game open at 63-79 and finished its season on a winning note.
What a fun-to-watch game!
Both teams are playing fun basketball, which is making this a great basketball game. Gustavo Ayon has hit all 10 of his two-point shots, Campazzo has dished 12 assists already to tie the Final Four record, but Fenerbahce is answering back with Kostas Sloukas and Marko Guduric at a high level of inspiration. Both teams are shooting the ball well, hitting 50% of their shots from downtown. Drives, great ball circulation, high intensity and two teams pushing the pace, making their great rivalry even better. The third place game rarely disappoints!
The next champion is in the building!
The finalists at the 2019 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four are in the house! The buses of Anadolu Efes Istanbul and CSKA Moscow have pulled into Fernando Buesa Arena and the players are on their way to the locker rooms to get ready. As soon as the third place game ends, the court will be open to the first future champs to warm up. The championship game atmosphere and tension can be felt all around the arena. It's going to be a special night!
A third place game of records?
A lot is happening in the third place game that doesn't have to do with the final score, but with making Final Four history. Sergio Llull of Real Madrid is second on the Final Four's all-time assists list (52) and needs 8 to lead the standings; Theo Papaloukas is first with 59. Speaking of assists, Facu Campazzo dished 7 in the first quarter, which is already one of the best marks in Final Four history. Terrell McIntyre of Montepaschi Siena has the Final Four record with 12 from the third place game against Tau Ceramica. Llull has climbed into fifth on the Final Four's all-time scoring list; he started the game with 163 points and moved past Dejan Bodiroga, Papaloukas and Nando De Colo, who will play later on tonight. Llull has a good chance to pass FC Barcelona legend Juan Carlos Navarro, who is fourth with 170 points, and CSKA Moscow great Trajan Langdon, who is third at 172.
A familiar starting five puts Real ahead
Attitude and desire is everything in the third place game as the teams
move on from a disappointing loss in the semifinals less than 48 hours ago. Real started the game with five of its six two-time champions - Facu Campazo, Jaycee Carroll, Rudy Fernandez, Gustavo Ayon and Felipe Reyes, players who have survived a million battles and forgot about heavy losses before. That move has given Coach Pablo Laso's team a quick double-digit lead, 9-19. As always, Fenerbahce got better when Kostas Sloukas and Jan Vesely came off the bench but so far, Real is more focused, looking forward, and leads 16-24 after 10 minutes.
The third place game opens the big night!
The last night of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season begins with the third-place game - a rematch of last year's championship game, Real Madrid vs. Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul. Anthony Randolph and Jeffery Taylor are not on the active roster tonight for Real and instead Klemen Prepelic and Santi Yusta are in uniform. Even though Luigi Datome was warming up with Fenerbahce before the game, he is still a bit away from getting back to action. Ali Muhammed is sitting next to him; he will not play either in the third place game. Thousands of fans at Fernando Buesa Arena are expecting a good, entertaining game - the perfect prelude to the showdown of the season - CSKA Moscow takes on Anadolu Efes Istanbul at 20:30 local time. Stay tuned!