In probably the greatest comeback in the history of the Euroleague Final Four, Olympiacos beat heavy favourites CSKA Moscow 62-61 to win their first title since 1997.
Georgios Printezis hit the game-winning bucket with 0.6 seconds remaining to give Olympiacos their first lead of the game since the mid-way point of the first period, but more importantly, when it counted the most. Ramunas Siskauskas missed vital free throws before that to set up the clutch moment.
Printezis ended with 12 points, Kostas Papanikolaou with 18 as these came out of the shadows and charged the Reds to victory.
It was typical of the Reds’ spirit throughout this Euroleague season, labelled the underdogs throughout the knockout stages, they believed in their own ability when no one else did and they got their just reward.
Vassils Spanoulis, who hit 12 points, was named Final Four MVP, but credit should go to Printezis and Papanikolaou, who delivered the goods in the closing stages of a frantic fourth quarter of basketball.
“This is just something unbelievable. Unbelievable. We are the Euroleague champions,” Spanoulis said. “We are very happy to able to live this moment and never gave up during the season. We fought, came back and won the game. Yes, it’s my second Final Four and I got the MVP twice but the most important thing is that we won the title.”
Trailing 53-34 thanks to well-worked lay-up by Alexey Shved the game looked over, it was déjà vu of 2010 all over again when Barcelona thrashed the Reds in the Paris Final Four.
But Dusan Ivkovic calmed his troops down, told them to relax, it was their time and no one was taking it from them. From 19 points down, the comeback began and with the buzzer about to sound, a basketball miracle took place.
Ivkovic though had a different hero: “It’s very difficult to speak about a player, I think this moment that the hero of the team is Acie Law. For two days he was in a room, he couldn’t even go downstairs with the lads,” he said.
“Separately, I don’t like to speak about the players, but the team.”
A 14-0 run was the players’ response to coach Ivkovic’s timeout as a bucket from Printezis cut it to single-digits, which, six minutes ago, was impossible to predict.
The nerves of the big occasion was clear as both sides went over two minutes without scoring after the opening two buckets of the game, a three from Spanoulis was answered with a turnaround from Teodosic, but the first quarter was marred with seven turnovers, three travels and one defensive three seconds.
The first ten minutes offered little highlights and ended with repeated trips by both teams to the charity stripe, CSKA up 10-7.
It was from there that CSKA Moscow showed their expected dominance though in the second quarter, three triples in a row from Teodosic extended his side’s lead to double-digits at 25-13.
Olympiacos were stunned, its fans were silent.
Lithuanian Darjus Lavrinovic ended the second with four quick points as CSKA went into the half-time interval 34-20 ahead.
Then in the closing stages of the third on to the fourth, Olympiacos showed their fighting spirit.
“This season was a failure,” admitted CSKA Moscow coach Jonas Kazlauskas. “If we lose one title then yes, we have failed, we want to win every title we compete in, this Euroleague crown was the biggest one and we didn’t win it. So, yes, this was a failed season.”
Teodosic hit 15 points while Andrei Kirilenko, who refused to comment on his future afterwards despite being more than likely to go back to the NBA next season, got a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.