They say that you rarely see a poor bookmaker but that doesn’t mean that they are always right. There are times when the bookies price one team out as the outsiders for an event and it comes to back to bite you.
In our preview to the semi-final match-up between Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and CSKA Moscow we highlighted the fact that the previous game between the two teams had been a very close affair. Moscow were undoubtedly the form team but Maccabi had shown that they could go head to head with their opponents. The bookies knew otherwise though and it was possible to get odds of 1.40 on CSKA Moscow heading to the final while Maccabi were outsiders with odds of 2.90 and 3.00 being made available.
If you took the plunge and backed the outsider, you will be sitting rather pretty this morning because a shock did happen, which just goes to show how magical a game basketball can be at times. The final score was CSKA Moscow 67 – Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 68. Just looking at that score indicates that this was a close match but that doesn’t begin to tell half the story. If you were looking for a basketball game that gave you drama, excitement and nail-biting tension, this was it. It would have been a brilliant game to watch on TV but it was a game that will never leave the basketball fans in the stadium. We are very pleased to say that we were present to see the drama unfold.
More excitement in a minute than some games have all day
Clearly the final score of a basketball match is dependent on the entire game and points scored in the first quarter are just as vital as the points scored in the final minutes. If you clock up enough points to win the game, it doesn’t matter when you score them. However, with a minute to go, the score stood at 64-61 in favour of CSKA Moscow, so it is clear that an awful lot of exciting basketball unfolded in the final moment of the first semi-final.
The charge for the final got underwayas Weems split a pair of free throws before Smith responded neatly with a layup that cut the gap to a mere two points. It was anyone’s game but when Weems sank a shot from just 5 metres, the 67-63 lead for CSKA Moscow should have been decisive. There was less than 20 seconds on the clock and sometimes in basketball you need to be able to see out the clock.
However, Maccabi took a timeout and then Blu came up with the goods that turned the game into a 67-66 stand-off. Blu then made CSKA Moscow feel blue when he stole the ball and quickly passed it over to Rice, who dashed to make the game-clinching layup with a total of 5.5 seconds on the clock. The arena erupted and with this late score there was time for Weems to have one final shot which just went off target. This was the cue for the fans dressed in yellow in the Mediolanum Forum to erupt and start making plans for celebrations that would last long into the night and probably all the way through until Sunday’s Grand Final.
The Maccabi players will need to rest and relax to ensure that they are optimum fitness for the Grand Final (where they take on Real Madrid) but the fans had already witnessed a basketball spectacle that will live with them for the rest of their life.
For the CSKA Moscow collective, it will be hard for players, the coaching squad and the fans to rouse themselves for the 3/4rd Play-Off although the team will not want to come fourth in the Euroleague Final Four.