On this day six years ago, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and Real Madrid celebrated victories that sent them into the EuroLeague championship game. The two semifinal games at Mediolanum Forum in Milan were opposites, with Maccabi edging CSKA Moscow in a thrilling contest decided in the final seconds before Real dismissed archrival FC Barcelona in a record-setting blowout.
Blu and Rice create a stunner
Maccabi rallied from a 15-point deficit late in the third quarter to beat CSKA 67-68. Tyrese Rice’s fastbreak layup with 5.5 seconds left secured Maccabi’s victory. CSKA started pulling away in the second quarter and led 38-30 at halftime before extending the margin into double digits in the third quarter. Sonny Weems made it 55-40 late in the third, but Coach David Blatt’s troops caught up. CSKA remained in front, however, David Blu hit his fifth three-pointer to bring the Israeli champs within 67-66 with 13.5 seconds to go. After a timeout, Victor Khryapa lost control of the ball and Blu was there to take advantage. He passed it to Rice who raced for a game-winning layup with 5.5 seconds left. Weems missed from downtown on the final buzzer. Blu paced Maccabi with 15 points, Rice finished with 13, while Ricky Hickman and Alex Tyus both scored 10 points. Sasha Kaun collected 14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks for CSKA, Milos Teodosic added 12 points and Khryapa had 9 points plus 10 rebounds.
Real blows out Barcelona
After the thrills in the first semifinal, Real blasted Barcelona 62-100 in the second. It was the second time in as many years these two teams met in the semifinals and Real again bested its archrival, but this time in memorable fashion. Real broke the game wide open with a 1-26 run spanning the third and fourth quarters. Sergio Rodriguez, the EuroLeague MVP that season, paced Los Blancos with 21 points and 6 assists, while Nikola Mirotic – who wears the Barcelona jersey today – scored 19 points. Rudy Fernandez had added 12 and Felipe Reyes and Sergio Llull tallied 11 apiece for Real. Ante Tomic paced Barcelona with 16 points and 8 rebounds and was the only Barcelona player who scored more than 8 points in the loss.
Records set and history missed
Real’s 38-point blowout against Barcelona remains the largest margin of victory ever in a EuroLeague semifinal in the Final Four era, surpassing Barcelona’s 101-67 defeat at the hands of Maccabi Tel Aviv in 1991. Real also advanced to its 16th EuroLeague championship game, also a record at the time which currently stands at 18 with Real also reaching – and winning – championship games in 2015 and 2018. Two players missed out on making history. CSKA center Kyle Hines and Barcelona forward Kostas Papanikolaou, who both won back-to-back titles with Olympiacos Piraeus in 2012 and 2013, missed the chance to win a third consecutive EuroLeague title, something only Jugoplastika Split players (1989 – 1991) and Sarunas Jasikevicius (2003-2005) have done to this date.
What happened next
Two days later, Maccabi completed its magical run by beating Real 98-86 in overtime. Maccabi again rallied from a double-digit first-half deficit and Rice doubled-down on his semifinals heroics; after scoring the game-winner against CSKA, Rice netted 26 points in the championship game and earned Final Four MVP honors.