CSKA Moscow is the 2018-19 EuroLeague champion
CSKA Moscow outlasted Anadolu Efes Istanbul 83-91 to win its eighth European crown in the championship game of the 2019 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four at Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Will Clyburn and Cory Higgins netted 20 points apiece and Nando De Colo contributed 15 points to lead CSKA to glory. CSKA led for the majority of the game, but Efes kept the pressure on by closing within 4 twice in the fourth quarter. CSKA never lost its composure and was able to seal the win with late free throws. The victory gave CSKA eight EuroLeague titles, which is second in competition history behind only the team it defeated in the semifinals, Real Madrid, which has 10. Shane Larkin made history for Efes with 29 points, which was the most in the championship game since the turn of the century. Krunoslav Simon added 15 before fouling out, Bryant Dunston posted 13 points and 10 rebounds and Vasilije Micic finished with 10 points for Efes, which was competing in its first EuroLeague championship game.
Coach Ergin Ataman made one change to his starting lineup by inserting James Anderson in place of Simon. Anderson was joined by Larkin, Micic, Adrien Moerman and Dunston. CSKA used the same starting lineup from Friday: De Colo, Daniel Hackett, Clyburn, Nikita Kurbanov and Othello Hunter. Both teams connected from downtown on their opening possessions and proceeded to traded shots. CSKA went to the bench first with Higgins in for Kurbanov and the former promptly drilled a three-pointer for CSKA's first lead, 14-15. As more reserves came in, CSKA seemed to get more of a lift; Higgins drained a second triple and Kyle Hines blocked Larkin, which led to a Hackett three, a 17-24 advantage and an Efes timeout. Another Higgins three pushed the margin to 12 before Rodrigue Beaubois answered with a three to end the first quarter at 20-29. The momentum remained with CSKA as Sergio Rodriguez buried a turnaround three to beat the shot clock, the tallest man on the court, Tibor Pleiss, missed a dunk and Beaubois's had a layup bounce out. Hines beat Tibor Pleiss for a reverse layup and a 20-34 lead. However, Hines was soon whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul on Larkin, who made the resulting free throws and Brock Motum scored on the offensive glass. After De Colo put CSKA ahead by 13, he was called for his second foul and exited the game. A three by Simon drew his team within 34-41 and prompted a CSKA timeout. Micic knocked down a three and Larkin free throws carried Efes within 42-44 at the break.
Simon picked up where he left off by draining a three-pointer for Efes's first lead since the first quarter. De Colo promptly restored the CSKA advantage with an assist to Hackett for a layup. Even though De Colo was back on the bench soon with his third foul, Clyburn sank a three and Hines converted a three-point play to make it 49-57. Larkin and Higgins traded threes before another by Clyburn restored a double-digit CSKA lead, 52-63, midway through the third quarter. Efes went on an 8-0 tear to finish the third quarter, during which it forced a pair of turnovers to get within 62-68 through 30 minutes. Dunston threw down a monster slam to make it a 4-point game. A fresh De Colo came off the bench for a layup, a three-pointer and – after a technical foul on Coach Ataman – a free throw to restore a double-digit advantage, 71-81. Threes by Simon and Micic kept Efes in the hunt, but a clutch put-back by Clyburn made it 77-85 with 2:20 remaining. Hackett was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Dunston, who made the resulting shots and Larkin followed with a tough layup. However, Higgins and Clyburn made free throws, which coupled with some strong defense allowed CSKA to hold on for the victory and the title.
CSKA had the best three-point shooting night in a EuroLeague championship game since the turn of the century. Its 14 three-pointers made tied the record for the most threes in the title game, which was set by Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2004. It bested that same Maccabi's mark for three-point accuracy, too. CSKA attempted only 22 threes and its shooting percentage was 63.6%. Maccabi took 23 shots on its special night (60.9%). CSKA's great shooting was all the more important against the team that set the record for most threes made in a season during this campaign.
Daniel Hackett was a valuable contributor on the offensive end with 7 points and 5 assists, but his defense was a major factor in the CSKA victory. He sacrificed his body and tangled with the Efes big guys on switches. More than anything else, his straight-up defense helped take All-EuroLeague guard Vasilije Micic out of the game for long stretches.
Larkin shines even in defeat
Shane Larkin finished a historic Final Four with a 29-point effort, which was the most by a player in the championship game since the turn of the century. His 59 points between the two games is likewise the best of the current millennium. His 9 three-pointers were 1 off the record for most at a single Final Four, too.
De Colo climbs the Final Four ladder
Nando De Colo's sustained excellence over his career saw him leap a few more rungs on the list of EuroLeague greats. In capturing his second title, De Colo improved to 179 career points at the Final Four, which is third most in competition history. He surpassed another CSKA great, Trajan Langdon (172) en route to the distinction. De Colo also became the all-time leader in free throws made at the Final Four with 59. He entered the game tied with Greek legend Nikos Galis for that honor.
Sunday, May 19, 2019