Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv coach David Blatt openly admitted that he didn’t see Tyrese Rice’s game-winner as his side snatched a dramatic 68-67 win over CSKA Moscow.
The former Russian national coach strangely stated that his vision was dark when David Blu collected the loose ball from CSKA’s Victor Khyrapa, which led to Rice hitting the lay-up with 5.5 seconds to go. The Muscovites had an opportunity to win it at the buzzer, but former Toronto Raptor Sonny Weems’ three-point attempt missed its mark.
“When [Rice] stole the ball, or when they lost the ball and David Blu picked it up; my eyes went black,” Blatt said. “I didn’t see anything, I swear to god, I’m telling you the truth.
“I’m a pretty experienced coach, maybe a very experienced coach, [but] my eyes went black, I don’t remember the play that Tyrese made, I haven’t seen it yet and I haven’t visualised it because all I said to myself was ‘wow, we’re going to win the game’, we had the ball and you knew we were going to win the game. With that situation, with that kind of plan, it has to be.
Blatt added: “So I still haven’t seen the shot. I’ll go back to the hotel to watch it to make sure it happened. This isn’t some sort of dream of mine. I didn’t see the shot.”
Maccabi overturned a 15-point deficit to pile more misery on a CSKA Moscow side, who despite being a Final Four side in 11 of the past 12 Euroleague seasons, have not won the title since 2008 as memories of their spectacular collapse of 2012 in Istanbul came flooding back as they squandered a 19-point lead to lose at the buzzer to Olympiacos.
The Russian side were ahead for all of the game apart from the final five seconds. It was another heartbreaker for coach Ettore Messina and his players, as now it is rumoured that Serbians Milos Teodosic and Nenad Krstic will depart in the summer.
For the joyful Tel Aviv side, a place in Sunday’s Final awaits. For the first time since 2011, they have a shot at Euroleague glory, as they look to correct the wrongs of their loss in Barcelona to Panathinaikos three years ago and win their first European crown since 2005.
“We will be prepared for Real Madrid,” Maccabi guard Yogev Ohayon said. “Our win was a great moment, particularly after how it happened, but it’s going to be a new day and on Sunday, we’ll be ready.”