20 Years Rewind: Real ends 20-year EuroLeague drought, 2015

Apr 27, 2020 by Euroleague.net Print
20 Years Rewind: Real ends 20-year EuroLeague drought, 2015

The regular season was dominated by CSKA Moscow, which topped its group with a 10-0 record including a pair of victories over reigning champion Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv. It was a perfect start for new CSKA coach Dimitris Itoudis, who saw his team live up to his ball-sharing principles by setting an all-time regular-season record with an average of 22.4 assists per game as Milos Teodosic and marquee new signing Nando De Colo struck an instant understanding in the backcourt. CSKA’s most impressive regular season performance came in a Round 7 victory at Maccabi, where five players scored in double-figures to secure an emphatic 61-84 triumph.

Individual records tumble

Round 5 of the regular season saw a record tumble as sharp-shooting Andrew Goudelock powered Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul’s victory at FC Bayern Munich by firing 10 of his 13 three-point attempts – the most triples ever recorded in a single game. Another towering individual performance came the following week when Marcus Williams of Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade set a new assists record. Williams dished 17 assists in his team’s double-overtime defeat at Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul.

Zalgiris leaves it late

The race for the Top 16 was intensely fought, with Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul, competition newcomer Nizhny Novgorod and Zalgiris Kaunas only securing their spots in the final round of the regular season. Zalgiris left it particularly late, recovering from 68-77 down in the final 3 minutes of its home meeting with EuroLeague debutant Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari. The key player was James Anderson, who tallied 26 points and completed the comeback with a three-point play just 2.5 seconds from the end.

Clasico clashes highlight Top 16

The pair of meetings between eternal rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid was the highlight of the Top 16 and honors ended up even as both teams won their home games en route to finishing joint top of the group with 11-3 records; Real claimed first place on the tiebreaker, after winning the first game by a whopping 97-73 behind 22 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists from Rudy Fernandez. As in the regular season, the best record of the Top 16 was compiled by CSKA Moscow with 12 wins and 2 losses. That included the first duels between new CSKA coach Itoudis and his mentor Zeljko Obradovic, who had entered his second season with Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul. Their first head to head battles saw the two coaches claim a victory apiece, with both teams winning on the road.

Maccabi outlasts ALBA to advance

Reigning champion Maccabi needed the last game of the Top 16 to secure a playoff spot, overcoming ALBA Berlin in a tight battle which also served to eliminate the German team. ALBA was bidding to advance to the last eight for the first time this century and came close to deposing the champs, with the game tied early in the fourth quarter, but a joint-club record 7 three-pointers from Devin Smith eventually saw Maccabi through.

Printezis the hero for Olympiacos

Three of the playoffs series went according to seeded status, notably with Fenerbahce sweeping Maccabi to advance to the Final Four for the first time in club history. Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow both won their respective matchups against Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Panathinaikos Athens three games to one. The remaining series saw Olympiacos Piraeus wrestle away homecourt advantage from FC Barcelona in Game 2, claiming a commanding 63-76 road victory behind 22 points and 9 rebounds from Georgios Printezis. The power forward was again the hero as the Reds duly completed the job with a pair of home victories, concluding with a buzzer-beating game-winning triple from the veteran to decide Game 4 and the series on an electrifying night at Peace and Friendship Stadium.

Bjelica takes the big prize

Ahead of its maiden Final Four adventure, Fenerbahce’s breakout season received individual recognition with the season MVP award being handed to Nemanja Bjelica, who showed great consistency to average 12.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals for Coach Obradovic’s troops. His teammate Bogdan Bogdanovic won the Rising Star award for the second consecutive season and another repeat winner was Bryant Dunston of Olympiacos as the EuroLeague Best Defender. The Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy went to Taylor Rochestie, who averaged 18.9 points on 50% three-point shooting as he led Nizhny Novgorod into the Top 16 in the club’s first EuroLeague season. Newly crowned MVP Bjelica was joined on the All-EuroLeague First Team by Teodosic, Vassilis Spanoulis of Olympiacos, Felipe Reyes of Real and Boban Marjanovic of Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade, who led the league with an average of 10.7 rebounds per game – the highest per-game rebounding average in more than a decade.

History repeats as Olympiacos downs CSKA

History repeated itself in the opening semifinal in Madrid's Barclaycard Center where Olympiacos overcame CSKA at the Final Four for the third time in four seasons. After beating the Muscovites in the 2012 championship game and the 2013 semifinal, the Reds did it again to overturn a 9-point deficit with 4 minutes remaining. Spanoulis missed his first 11 shots of the game, but scored 11 points in the final quarter, including the go-ahead triple with 10 seconds remaining to seal a 68-70 comeback victory. The second semifinal saw host Real overcome Fenerbahce 96-87. It was a physical game that saw five players foul out, but the key plays came in the second quarter when a trio of triples from KC Rivers allowed Real to establish a 21-point lead. Fenerbahce made it closer after the break, but Real kept on downing long-range strikes, finishing with a Final Four joint-high of 14 three-pointers as Rivers made 5 of 6 from beyond the arc.

Real claims ninth crown

The championship game was closely fought over the first 20 minutes and Olympiacos held a 40-41 lead midway through the third quarter. But then Jaycee Carroll took over with 11 points in a row, including 3 three-pointers in less than 2 minutes… And Real never looked back from that moment to secure a 78-59 win. Carroll top scored with 16 points, but the Final Four MVP Award went to veteran forward Andres Nocioni, who combined 12 points and 7 rebounds in the title game after recording 12 points and 6 rebounds in the semifinal. It was Real’s record ninth continental crown in total and the club’s first since 1995.

Third time lucky for Real

After losing in the championship game in each of the previous two seasons, it was a case of third time lucky for Real Madrid – and for veteran center Felipe Reyes it was worth the wait: “I have been waiting for this title for a long time,” he said. “We were really close to lifting the trophy in the last two years and it is a great, really deserved reward for all the work that we did – and we won it at home. We couldn't ask for more!”