With this year’s Euroleague Final Four event taking place in Madrid in May, Real Madrid have been desperate to book their spot in the showpiece end of season event in the premier basketball competition in Europe. Even without that incentive, the fact that Madrid lost out in the final of last season’s Euroleague to Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv would have seen Los Blancos fired up to right that wrong. With this in mind, it is probably no surprise to learn that Real Madrid managed to seal the tie at 3-1 and they head back to Madrid to focus on domestic duties and preparing themselves for the pressure of being the home team at the main event.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul 63 – Real Madrid 76
One thing that had been constant across this series was the fact that Real Madrid were toiling and trailing in all of the games before putting on a late spurt. This helped them to get over the line three times, which is all that they needed to book their place in the Final Four for the third season in a row.
The game had been pretty close for three and half quarters but there was enough class in the Spanish side to grab the win. Rudy Fernandez is the sort of player you want in your team when it comes to the crunch and he managed to pick up a pair of threes in the last minute of the game, pushing Los Blancos over the top and into the end of the season event.
Rudy Fernandez was a key man for Madrid
Alongside his last minute intervention, Fernandez was a key player, offering up a total of 17 points for the winners. Sergio Llull was also a big part in the win, offering up 14 points and 5 assists while Sergio Rodriguez gave the winners 12 points. Two other Madrid players picked up double figures with Jaycee Carroll and Felipe Reyes picking up 10 points each.
For the home team, Nenad Krstic offered 16 points, Matt Janning provided 10 points while Dario Saric served up 9 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists over the course of the evening. Saric did his reputation no harm at all with his performances across the series, but for the moment, him and his Efes team-mates will need to focus on domestic Final Four would have been too bothered about who wasn’t there, but the inclusion of Real Madrid should give a lot more excitement to the big showpiece event. There will be a lot more fans for the home team, but this can sometimes act as a spur for the other fans.
Some observers may think that Real Madrid will receive a huge benefit from playing at home but you only have to think back to last summer when Spain welcomed the basketball world. It was always likely that Team USA were going to win the gold medals but Spain were expected to make it through to the final and challenge them all the way. The home support wasn’t enough and the Spanish side were humbled by France, and Madrid will be wary that they could fall the same way unless they are up for the fight.