Final Four semifinals surpass all expectations!
With four great teams and two rich rivalries making up the showcase for the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four Semifinals, expectations were high. After a fantastic evening at Mediolanum Forum in Milan, all expectations had been surpassed. The two games were polar opposites. One was as close as it gets, decided in the closing minute with plays that will remain ingrained on players’ and fans’ minds forever. The other was a record-setting blowout in which the result was clear long before the final buzzer.
Tyrese Rice scored a layup with 5.5 seconds to go, as Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv rallied to beat CSKA Moscow 67-68 after trailing by as many as 15 points late in the third quarter to book its date with basketball history on Friday. The five-time continental champion fought back from 55-40 to claim a ticket to Sunday’s Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four Championship Game. CSKA grabbed the lead early in the first quarter and never trailed again – until Rice scored the game-winning basket. Behind Sonny Weems and Milos Teodosic, the Moscow club built a double-digit lead, but David Blu, Alex Tyus and Rice rallied Tel Aviv to a victory in a thrilling final minute. Blu paced Maccabi, scoring 15 points on 5 three-pointers. Rice finished with 13 points while Ricky Hickman and Tyus had 10 points apiece. Maccabi will be playing in its 15th final and shooting for its first title since 2005. CSKA meanwhile will have to settle for the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four Third Place Game despite Sasha Kaun collecting 14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
Real Madrid blew out FC Barcelona 62-100 for the largest margin of victory ever in a Euroleague semifinal in the Final Four era. Madrid returns to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four Championship Game for a second straight year after once again beating its fierce El Clasico rival. Los Blancos broke the game wide open with a 26-1 run bridging the third and fourth quarters, and turning a 47-56 game into a 48-82 blowout. In the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Championship Game on Sunday, Madrid will take on Maccabi Tel Aviv, looking to snap its 19-year title drought. Freshly crowned bwin MVP Sergio Rodriguez paced Madrid with 21 points and 6 assists in only 21 minutes on the floor, while Nikola Mirotic added 19 points. Rudy Fernandez had 12 and both Felipe Reyes and Sergio Llull tallied 11 in victory. Barcelona was paced by Ante Tomic with 16 points and 8 rebounds. No other Barcelona player reached double figures, with Brad Oleson and Erazem Lorbek scoring 8 apiece.