Basketball: Real Madrid, king of Europe for the 11th time and suspense

Real is eternal. The Madrid club won its eleventh Euroleague basketball five years after the last after overthrowing Olympiacos (79-78) on the wire thanks to a basket from Sergio Llull three seconds from the siren on Sunday in Kaunas (Lithuania) during a superb final.

The Merengues, the most successful in the competition, were led by four lengths with 45 seconds remaining (78-74), before an award-winning shot from Sergio Rodriguez (15 pts) then the basket from Llull who had scored no points Match.

The two grognards of this Real who takes his revenge for the final last year, lost against Efes Istanbul (59-58).

“We were lucky on that last shot, but that’s basketball,” said Madrid coach Chus Mateo.

The point of difference is this time in his favor and has silenced the approximately 5,000 noisy supporters of Piraeus, all dressed in red, stunned at the final whistle.

After the last failed attempt of their hero Kostas Sloukas – author of the shot of the victory of match 3 in quarters against Fenerbahçe – in this Zalgirio Arena which they were the only ones to heat during this weekend of Final Four, booing the adversaries and singing to the glory of their heroes.

– Real miraculously –

Madrid's Walter Tavares (g) and Mario Hezonja winners of the Euroleague, May 21, 2023 in Kaunas (- PETRAS MALUKAS)
Madrid’s Walter Tavares (g) and Mario Hezonja winners of the Euroleague, May 21, 2023 in Kaunas (- PETRAS MALUKAS)

Real seem almost miraculous after having overcome in the quarter-finals against Partizan Belgrade their two inaugural defeats at home, then accused in the decisive match 5 18 points behind at the start of the third quarter.

“We had ups and downs this season, very difficult but with a happy ending. I’m very proud of these guys, they stayed together when things were bad, always believed they could win, never never returned despite the injuries, the defeats. The more difficult it is the more we fight”, noted Mateo.

The series against Partizan was marked by an all-out fight in game 2 after a gross foul by .. Llull on Kevin Punter.

Result: 21 exclusions, match stopped less than 1 min 40 sec from the end and, a posteriori, momentum stopped for Partizan, deprived for two games of its American leader and for one of its French pivot Mathias Lessort, two key pieces.

Llull was not sanctioned unlike Guerschon Yabusele, who consequently watched the coronation of his teammates in civilian clothes on Sunday, like Vincet Poirier (injured). These two absences inside forced the Real coach to tinker tactically.

“(The series against Partizan) is a turning point” in the Madrid season, according to Fabien Causeur, very happy in the mixed zone wearing the white cap of the 11th title like his teammates. All were congratulated in the locker room by Florentino Perez, the president of Real.

– “We give everything” –

“We showed a lot of heart and + cojones +. It’s our mentality: it passes or it doesn’t, but we give everything to have no regrets. Basketball is often generous when we give everything, “added the French rear, essential to keep his team afloat before the final (11 points including 3/5 at long distance).

Madrid's Nigel Williams-Goss (g) marking Olympiacos player Thomas Walkup in the Euroleague final, May 21, 2023 in Kaunas ( - PETRAS MALUKAS)
Madrid’s Nigel Williams-Goss (g) marking Olympiacos player Thomas Walkup in the Euroleague final, May 21, 2023 in Kaunas ( – PETRAS MALUKAS)

And who was responsible for defending Sloukas in the last action.

The disillusion is great for Olympiacos, who are still waiting for their fourth crown (after 1997, 2012 and 2013) and have lost their third final since their last title ten years ago (after 2015 and 2017 against … Real).

Thus continues a curse: since the establishment of a single pool in 2016, the first of the regular season has never been crowned European champion.

The Olympiacos of the French pivot Moustapha Fall was close to breaking it, carried by its strong winger Sacha Vezenkov, MVP of the regular season and author of 29 points Sunday in the final. But he watched the Spaniards celebrate their eleventh crown.

It’s a painful feeling, I’m also sad for the fans, commented Greek coach Georgios Bartzokas. We also lost (against Efes Istanbul) on a + buzzer beater + in the semi-finals last year.”

Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by

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