FC Barcelona will play the Euroleague final, Sunday in Cologne, against Efes Istanbul, after having enforced the logic in the semi-final against Olimpia Milan (84-82), but narrowly, on one last Cory Higgins’ victorious shot.
In the other semi-final, Efes Istanbul had qualified a little earlier for its second final in a row, after that of 2019, by taking revenge on CSKA Moscow (89-86) which therefore lost its title despite a huge comeback at the end of the match. Sacred at Paris-Bercy in 2010, Barcelona played this Final 4 for the last time in 2014, finishing third at the expense of CSKA Moscow. This time around, the Catalans, with veteran Pau Gasol (10 points) back in his training club at 40, did not miss the opportunity to find the flavor of a final, but they had a lot of trouble against the Milanese of Ettore Messina.
Barça started by managing the first half of the match very well, which allowed them to reach half-time with a deserved advantage (51-42) thanks to their star Nikola Mirotic (21 points). But Milan hung on and kept up the suspense, until passing in the middle of the third quarter (58-57), and even widening a small gap (69-61) in the wake of the American Kevin Punter (23 points). And Barcelona got back together, tightened the game, until Higgins’ final shoot, at the last second, which sealed the fate of this meeting with twists and turns. Concern for Sunday, however, on the Catalan side, the injury of the American-Greek leader Nick Calathès, forced to leave at the end of the match because of a sprain.
Three French will play the final
The only club to have passed the quarter-finals without losing a match, CSKA were favorites in the other semi-final, like Barcelona against Milan. Both clubs took the first two places in the regular season with the same number of wins (24 for 10 losses). Efes largely dominated the debates for more than three-quarters of the meeting, widening a gap of 21 points for a while, thanks to the address of the Serbian Vasilje Micic (26 points) and the presence of the Turkish pivot Sertac Sanli in inside (19 points, 8 rebounds), but he was scared late in the game, like Barça.
CSKA came back to one point and even had the match point in the final seconds, missed on a three-point shot by the American Will Clyburn, who had nevertheless been the great architect of the comeback (26 points). Three French will therefore play the final, Rodrigue Beaubois (15 points in the semi-final) and Adrien Moerman on the side of Efes and Leo Westermann with Barça (the latter was not on the scoresheet in the half, however). They will try to succeed Nando de Colo, winner of the Euroleague in 2019 with CSKA Moscow before leaving for Fenerbahçe in Istanbul.
Schedule and results of the Euroleague Final 4:
CSKA Moscou (RUS) – Efes Istanbul (TUR) 86-89
FC Barcelone (ESP) – Milan (ITA) 84-82
3rd place match