Over seven months ago the 2012-13 Euroleague season got underway with four days of Qualifying rounds, giving one club, Mapooro Cantu, the opportunity to move up to the ‘Big Leagues’ and play in the 10-game regular season as a participant in Group A. The four groups of six teams played each other twice over a two month period and the top four from each group moved on to the Top 16 to play another 14 games. The top four from each group in the Top 16 advanced to the quarterfinals, with those four winnings heading to London last week for the Final Four at the O2 Arena.
It’s been a long season, but after all was said and done, last season’s Euroleague champion, Olympiacos Piraeus was matched up against the team with the most wins in Euroleague Final Four history, Real Madrid, for a one game Championship. 40 minutes later, in a game that featured a 29-point lead swing from the first quarter to the final buzzer, Olympiacos Piraeus, were handed their second trophy in a row. That trophy, was first handed to the 2012-13 Euroleague MVP, Vassilis Spanoulis, who was also named the Euroleague Final Four MVP.
Over 15,000 Euroleague fans packed into the O2 Arena in London to witness the final contest of the 2012-13 season, and as the first quarter unfolded, it looked like it was going to be a huge blowout. Real Madrid took the floor, looking like a very well-oiled machine as they dropped in threes, then Mirza Begic blocked four shots setting the tone that a multi-dimensional attack was going to be put together and the defending champions where going to have to step up their game. On the strength of 5 triples in the first quarter, the Spanish club built a 10:27 advantage after the first 10.
In the second, the Olympiacos players decided as a group that they had spotted Madrid enough and set out to put their names in the Euroleague history books as the club that pulled off one of the greatest comebacks ever. The story of the frame was the fact that the Spanish club would go without a field goal for over six minutes, while the Reds roared back and challenged the lead with a 27:14 quarter. As time was running out on the quarter, Kostas Sloukas was hit on the arm as he lofted a triple, that came up short, but he calmly stepped to the line and sank all three charity tosses to send the contest to the halftime break with Olympiacos still down four, 37:41.
It was an unbelievable three days in London. We came as champion, but also an outsider. You know the budget and the difficult season we had after being a champion and then playing so many games. We had our backs against the wall so many times. There was a lot of discussion, but this was good because it made us stronger. We overturned many games like today. We beat two great teams, and we deserve to be at the top of Europe.
–Vassilis Spanoulis, Olympiacos Piraeus
A pair of triples off the hands of Spanoulis put Olympiacos on top, 45:43, to open the second half. The Reds continued to build on their lead, getting up six, 52:46, mid-way through the quarter on an Acie Law fast-break lay-up. Madrid went on a 3:10 run to regain the lead, 55:56. As the time ran out on the third 10, the club’s were knotted up at 61.
It didn’t take long for the game to fall under complete control of the defending champs, as the Reds opened up a big lead in the final frame and continued to roll to a game-high advantage of 14 points in the second half of the fourth quarter. Every time Madrid started to put together a comeback, Olympiacos made sure it never got close. At the final buzzer, the Greek club was starting to celebrate their 100:88 win.
Like I always do, I congratulate them for the championship. They played a great game. It was very competitive from the beginning. And they are the true champion, because they had a great year all around. After that I cannot even have a bad word about my team. My team gave everything they had from inside from the first moment this competition started. I told them in the locker room today. We feel like shit now, but we should be very proud about what this team has been doing in this competition the entire year. This is a sad day. But to lose finals you have to be in finals. And that’s what I told my team. I want to thank the people from Madrid. We couldn’t have made it this far without them. I think they should also be proud of this team because I am the coach and am proud of them.
The first three plays of the third quarter made the difference. Spanoulis made three three-pointers in a row. And in the end, they were able to control the difference in the score. They are the champions.
— Pablo Laso, Real Madrid coach
Spanoulis finished with a game-high 22 points for Olympiacos. Law tallied 20 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and a PIR of 31. Kyle Hines added 12, Sloukas dropped in 11, and Pero Antic and Stratos Perperoglou dropped in 10.
Real Madrid got 21 points from Rudy Fernandez, 17 points from Sergio Rodriguez, and 14 from Sergio Llull.