For the second consecutive season, Greek club Olympiacos beat the odds and reached the pinnacle of European club basketball as they retained their Euroleague Basketball title after defeating Real Madrid at the O2 Arena in London 100-88 in the Final. This was Olympiacos’ third Euroleague title in their history and the third consecutive year that the championship was lifted by a Greek after, after Panathinaikos won in 2011.
Falling to a 17-point hole at the end of an awful-shooting first quarter, Olympiacos were able to steadily carve a comeback against the star-studded Real Madrid side from Spain. Led by 22 points from Vasisilis Spanoulis, Olympiacos played gutsy, physical basketball to take the lead and dominate the final period to secure the championship. For the second consecutive season, Spanoulis was named MVP of the Euroleague Final Four. He was also the MVP of the entire 2012-13 Euroleague season.
Noted basketball website HoopsHype described Olympiacos, on talent alone, as ‘probably the worst team in the Final Four. But they play together and they play hard.’ Their togetherness and hard-play was rewarded in the Final was Sunday night. The final was reminiscent of last year’s Euroleague’s Final, when Olympiacos trailed by 19 in the third period against CSKA Moscow before coming back to win in the final seconds. The end to this game wasn’t quite as dramatic, but led by Spanoulis, the Greeks went from being underdog to champions again. Acie Law, who chipped in 20 points, was named Final’s MVP. Rudy Fernandez led Real Madrid with 21 points in the Final and Sergio Rodriguez had 17.
Only three other teams in the Euroleague Final Four era have successfully defended their title. Olympiacos have become the first to do it since Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2005.
Earlier in the day, CSKA Moscow edged FC Barcelona in a close-fought game for the bronze medal. Victor Khryapa had 16 points for Moscow, who survived a potential game winning shot by Barcelona’s Marcelinho Huertas to win the game 74-73. Juan Carlos Navarro led Barcelona with 17.
In the semi-final stage of the Final Four on Friday, Olympiacos had defeated Moscow comfortably 69-52 in a rematch of last year’s final. In a game between two Spanish giants, Felipe Reyes scored 17 to help Real Madrid slip past Barcelona 74-67. Huertas (19) and Ante Tomic (18) were the leading scorers for Barcelona.
All Euroleague First Team
Dimitris Diamantidis (Panathinaikos)Vassilis Spanoulis (Olympiacos)Rudy Fernandez (Real Madrid)Ante Tomic (Barcelona)Nenad Krstic (CSKA Moscow)
Final Four MVP: Vassilis Spanoulis (Olympiacos)
Euroleague MVP: Vassilis Spanoulis (Olympiacos)