There is certainly money to be made from the bookies if you can find a team with a perfect will to win. Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv were rank outsiders in their semi-final match against CSKA Moscow but they delivered an almighty shock in that match. The team from Israel were even bigger outsiders when it came to the Championship Game, with odds of 4.33 with bwin. However, the outcome of Championship Games is not decided by bookmakers, they are decided by the players on the court and the players from Maccabi triumphed.
Yes, there was a huge shock in the Championship Game of the 2014 Euroleague Final Four in Milan. The atmosphere was as electric as the name of Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv suggests and the scoring in the game, which finished with a score of 98-86 after OT, in favour of the team bedecked in yellow!
The scoring of the quarters ran as follows (with Maccabi first) 15-16, 18-19, 20-20, 20-18 and then the OT scored 25-13. The score at full-time was 73-73 and the fact that the final quarter was the first one that Maccabi managed to win tells you everything you need to know about the tight nature of the game and the dramatic nature of the victory.
The Maccabi fans brought noise and colour to Milan
There were 10,000 Maccabi followers in the Mediolanum Forum and they made an almighty racket in roaring on David Blatt and his team to victory. There was a touch of history in the fact that this was the first Championship game to head to OT since 1969. Back then it was between CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid, so the whites from the Spanish capital know a thing or two about OT drama. However, this was the first OT Championship Game in the Final Four era, so fans who witnessed this will be able to say that “they were there” for the big event. The win moves Maccabi to 6 Euroleague titles, which is the second most titles, an accolade they share with CSKA Moscow, who Maccabi defeated in Friday’s semi-final and Panathinaikos Athens. Although they lost in the final on Sunday, Real Madrid can still boast of having clinched the most Championship titles, 8.
The bwin MVP for the 2014 Euroleague season, Sergio Rodriguez was Madrid’s big player, delivering 21 points. He was ably assisted by Rudy Fernandez who served up 15 points and 8 rebounds in the Championship match. However, this is the second final that Madrid has lost in a row and they are still waiting to claim their first Euroleague Championship since 1995. There were heroes everywhere you looked in the Maccabi roster. Alex Tyus served up 12 points, 3 blocks and 11 rebounds while Ricky Hickman helped himself to 18 points. Devin Smith grabbed 15 points and David Blu, the hero of the semi-final nabbed 14 points. Even with all of these great performances though, there was only one winner of the MVP award for the Final Four.
Rice was the worthy winner of the Final Four MVP
One player that will never forget the 2014 Euroleague Final four Championship is Tyrese Rice. Rice was named as the bwin MVP for the Final Four and his form was a major part in the success of his team at the event. Rice scored a total of 26 points in the Championship Game but the fact that 21 of these 26 points were claimed in the 4th quarter and OT indicates that he was a player that mattered when it mattered most. With 14 points in the OT of the Championship Game, a game that decided by a score of 98-86, you cannot play down the importance of this style of player.
The 26 points that Rice picked up saw him fall just one short of the record points tally for a Final Four game. Five players hold the record of 27 points but the most recent player to do so was Manu Ginobili back in 2002, so high scoring of this nature hasn’t been too common of late. Rice also delivered nine from nine from the free throw line, which was just one short of the highest score without a miss. The record is 10 and this was set in 2001 by Elmer Bennett.
The Euroleague Final Four of 2014 in Milan will live long in the memory of the basketball fans who were fortunate to be present or who watched it from the comfort of their own home on TV or online. The two matches involving Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv were absolutely breath-taking and no one will begrudge the Israeli team having their moment in the spotlight. They showed courage, strength, determination and a great deal of basketball skill and know-how to fight their way through to be hailed winners at the Euroleague Final Four of 2014. With plans in place for Madrid to host the event in 2015, basketball fans are already thinking about ensuring they book their spot for one of the most exciting weekends in the annual calendar of basketball.
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