FIBA Champions League: Monaco and AEK reach final
The Final Four of the 2018 FIBA Champions League tipped off on Friday with the semifinal games in O.A.C.A. Olympic Indoor Hall in Athens, Greece. AEK Athens used a home Greek crowd to secure a narrow win over Murcia, while last season’s third-placed team Monaco took out Ludwigsburg in stylish fashion.
AEK Athens vs. UCAM Murcia, 77-75
Murcia had the chance this weekend to become the second Spanish club to win the FIBA Champions League after Iberostar Tenerife’s success a year ago. However, AEK Athens may not be at its own floor this Final Four, but the Greek club is the home team in Athens. With that advantage, AEK edged into Sunday’s final and left Murcia fighting for third place. After a narrow first quarter the game opened slightly in the second frame and Athens secured a 40-34 halftime advantage. Murcia got back into the game in the third act, using a 15-20 period to make it 55-54 through thirty minutes. That one-point difference set up a thrilling fourth quarter that was decided when Delroy James drained his two free throws to take the win with nine seconds remaining.
Monaco vs. MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, 87-65
Monaco is a picture of consistency in the FIBA Champions League. Last season the French club finished third place, but in 2018 will have a shot at the title after brushing aside Ludwigsburg. In a one-sided contest, Monaco controlled large periods of the game. However, it was the German contingent that started better as Ludwigsburg launched into a 20-11 lead after ten minutes. That was as good as it got as Monaco used an 18-25 second to leave the scoreboard on 38-36 through the long break. The French team still trailed, but a 16-25 third quarter confirmed all the momentum was with Monaco. Leading 54-61 after three acts, last season’s bronze team took the fourth 11-26 to wrap a cruising victory.
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