Vitoria (Spain) – The experienced CSKA Moscow against the novice Efes Istanbul: the Sunday basketball Euroleague final (21h00 / 19h00 GMT) in Vitoria (Spain) offers a big gap with the Russians in the position of favorites, to aim an eighth continental sacred.
In the semi-finals, CSKA Moscow snatched Friday its revenge for the lost semi-final of the 2018 edition against Real Madrid. Led throughout the game (14 points late in the middle of the 3rd quarter, 65-51), the Muscovites rallied within four minutes of the end (80-80).
Frenchman Nando de Colo, a metronome on the free throw line (13 of 14), kept his teammates in the game (23 points overall), as did Real Madrid's former Sergio Rodriguez (23 points).
And while the Real had taken over a three-pointer basket of Jeffrey Taylor (83-80, 37th), it was De Colo that allowed his teammates to return to the lead, a little more than one minute from the end of the game on an award-winning shot (87-85), while he was struggling in the game.
"It was a hard match, we knew it before the match. We never gave up and we made the difference in the end. The season has been long. We've had these matches, and we've always managed to come back", said Colo, author of a second half-time dream.
– Shane Larkin on fire –
Real will not join the three teams who managed to retain their title, achieve the "back-to-back": Olympiakos in 2012 and 2013, Macabi Tel Aviv in 2004 and 2005, and the Yugoslavs of Split and its unpublished tripled 1989, 1990 and 1991.
And despite the huge part of his hero of the final 2018, the French Fabien Causeur. In the hall of his Euroleague debut in the Basque Country, in Vitoria, the fabulous 31-year-old southpaw made sparks for his rare minutes of play (15), scoring 18 points, Madrid's best scorer.
In the final, the Fenerbahçe, three finals of Euroleague winners whose coronation of 2017, was expected after its regular season, topped with only five defeats in thirty games played.
But that was not counting the Efes Istanbul, driven by his American point guard Shane Larkin, unstoppable in the Fernando Buesa Arena of Vitoria: 30 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and an incredible score of 43. The second best performance in a meeting of a Final Four of Euroleague.
"We have no pressure, because we play modern basketball, NBA basketball as Golden State does", Efes Istanbul coach Ergin Ataman explained in a press conference after the Istanbul derby won.
"Shane did not have a very good start to the season with some injuries. I hope we win the final with this basketball", added Ataman.