On This Day, 2012: Reds produce Istanbul Miracle to win the crown

May 13, 2020 by Euroleague.net Print
On This Day, 2012: Reds produce Istanbul Miracle to win the crown

On this day in 2012, Olympiacos Piraeus produced the greatest comeback in championship game history to stun CSKA Moscow and win the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague crown on Georgios Printezis's late floater at Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul.

Olympiacos's run to the championship game

After crashing out in the playoffs the year before, Olympiacos broke up the core of the team and retooled with Georgios Printezis, Kyle Hines, Pero Antic and Vangelis Mantzaris signing and Kostas Sloukas returning from loan. There were early struggles with the Reds staring at a 3-4 record before reeling off three consecutive victories to finish the regular season and advance to the Top 16. The team fortified its lineup at that point with Acie Law and Joey Dorsey to sneak into the playoffs on a tiebreaker before eliminating Montepaschi Siena despite no having homecourt advantage. Vassilis Spanoulis starred with 21 points and 6 assists to knock off FC Barcelona in the semis.

CSKA's run to the championship game

On the heels of CSKA's worst season in a decade – 2011 was the first time CSKA failed to reach the Final Four since 2002, the team put together a new-look roster led by Andrei Kirilenko, Nenad Krstic and Milos Teodosic, the last of whom arrived from Olympiacos. Together they took the competition by storm; CSKA had a perfect regular season and lost but once in the Top 16. A 3-1 victory over Gescrap Bilbao Basket in the playoffs put Coach Jonas Kazlauskas's men back in the Final Four. Once there, Kirilenko went for 17 points and 9 rebounds to edge Panathinaikos Athens 66-64 in the semifinals on Friday and the next night he was named EuroLeague MVP and EuroLeague Best Defender and was joined on stage by Krstic on the All-EuroLeague First Team.

All CSKA for three quarters

For most of the first three quarters, it looked like there was only one team on the court. CSKA led 10-7 at the end of the grueling defensive struggle in the first quarter before surging ahead in the second. While the CSKA defense held the Reds scoreless for 6 minutes, back-to-back three-pointers gave the Muscovites a double-digit lead, 25-13. Darjus Lavrinovic scored twice as CSKA added to its lead, which stood at 34-20 at halftime – and was nearly even bigger, but Alexey Shved's three was ruled to be after the halftime buzzer. The Olympiacos attack got back on track after the break, but there was no stopping CSKA. Victor Khryapa and Kirilenko nailed back-to-back threes and Ramunas Siskauskas, Jamont Gordon and Shved all scored as the lead peaked at 53-34 with 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Olympiacos turns it on in time

Sloukas split free throws, Printezis scored a fast break layup and Mantzaris added a three-pointer in the closing seconds of the quarter to make it 53-40 going into the last 10 minutes. Sloukas scored a three to open the fourth quarter, Printezis made another layup and Marko Keselj's three brought Reds within 5. Most of that comeback was done with Olympiacos's ace, Spanoulis, resting. CSKA managed to remain on top as the game entered the final minute. Siskauskas went to the line with CSKA up 61-60 and 10.7 seconds remaining. After he surprisingly missed twice, Olympiacos gave the ball to Spanoulis who drew the attention of the entire CSKA defense, drove into the paint and then passed to Printezis who had just enough time to unleash his patented one-armed floater over Kirilenko to win the game 61-62 and the championship.

The numbers

Kostas Papanikolaou, who a year later would be named EuroLeague Rising Star, paced the Reds with 18 points, Spanoulis finished with 15 and Printezis had 12 for the winners. Teodosic led CSKA with 15 points, Kirilenko posted 12 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals and Krstic added 11 points. CSKA outshot Olympiacos on two-pointers (53.3% to 42.3%) and threes (37.5% to 36.4%) and outrebounded the champs-to-be 33-28, but were damned by their poor free-throw shooting (11 of 19, 57.9%) and 22 turnovers.

What came next

These two teams would meet in a high-stakes showdown a year later in the semifinals of the 2013 Final Four in London. This time Olympiacos overwhelmed CSKA from the start to win 52-69. Current CSKA captain Kyle Hines tallied 13 points and 10 rebounds off the bench and Antic also scored 13 to pace the Reds, who would take down Real Madrid two days later to capture their second straight championship. Olympiacos also bested CSKA in the 2015 and 2017 semifinals.