In the last minute of the first half of Thursday's meeting between Real Madrid and FC Bayern Munich, the visiting team was on top. Bayern had battled back from a 29-19 deficit to take the lead, 44-45, and when Jalen Reynolds blocked a shot from Trey Thompkins it gave Bayern possession with just 25 seconds on the game clock.
The Bayern plan, of course, was to use the full 24 seconds of the shot clock to ensure that Real had virtually no time to attempt to score at the other end. That would mean that Bayern would head into the locker room leading by either 1 point, at worst, or ideally even more if their final possession could produce a basket.
Real guard Facundo Campazzo, though, had a very different plan of his own.
As Wade Baldwin IV advanced the ball into the Real half, attempting to wind down the clock before setting up the last play, Campazzo snapped away at his heels like a dog hunting a bone. And he didn't stop snapping until he had forced Baldwin to lose possession, using his fast hands to make a clean steal. As Campazzo prepared to grab the loose ball and race down the court on the fastbreak, Baldwin instinctively reacted by grabbing him around the chest, drawing the referee's whistle and, after a review of the replay, an inevitable unsportsmanlike foul call.
Now, instead of defending the final possession of the half in the hope of not falling further behind, Real had free throws and possession. Campazzo made the most of the former, sinking both his shots from the foul line. 46-45. Then the ensuing possession saw Sergio Llull produce one of his trademark off-balance high arcing three-point strikes from the right corner. A perfect finish to the half left Real ahead 49-45.
Llull's latest buzzer-beating mandarina was without a doubt one of the most spectacular moments of the game and clearly marked a turning point as it allowed Real to head into the locker room on a high. But the truly important moment was Campazzo's steal, without which Llull's inspired strike would not have even been possible. And although it's always tempting to focus on offensive achievements, especially as Real eventually went on to score 100 points, it should be acknowledged that the biggest single moment in this game was a defensive action.
Within the blink of an eye, Campazzo changed the game. His steal meant that rather than going into the break potentially losing by up to 4, Real instead was leading by 4 at halftime – an eight-point swing with one theft of the ball, changing the whole dynamic of the contest. Sure enough, Real used the momentum of its first-half finish to keep the lead, pull away towards the end of the third and claim a desperately needed second win of the season. Without Campazzo's game-changing steal, perhaps the outcome would have been very different.