Led by Euroleague MVP Vassilis Spanoulis, Olympiakos Piraeus used a dominant second half to defeat Real Madrid, 100-88, to capture Europe’s premier basketball trophy for the second year in a row.
The game was a stark contrast to last year’s final when it took a game-winning shot from Georgios Printezis at the buzzer to overcome heavily favored CSKA Moscow. Olympiakos became the first team to win back-to-back Euroleague titles since Maccabi Tel Aviv won in 2004 and 2005.
Spanoulis, who once played for the Houston Rockets and one of the stars on the Greek national team, dominated the second half. He shot five 3-pointers and notched four assists. He was voted the Final Four’s most valuable player for the third time and finished with a game-high 22 points.
“It has been a very difficult year – you know our budget,” Spanoulis told Reuters. “Our backs have been against the wall many times, but we have stayed together and fought back each time.”
Greece has been stuck in an economic rut, so the victory was a much-needed one. Inspired by a vocal following who made the trip to London’s O2 Arena, Olympiacos battled back from 27-10 down after the first quarter to take the lead early in the second half. They rarely looked threatened, scoring 39 points in the fourth quarter to clinch their third Euroleague title.
“[Madrid] scored some incredible shots in the first quarter, but we put a stop to that and started rebounding offensively, and I think that was the key to success in the end,” said Olympiakos forward Pero Antic.
After defeating CSKA in the semifinals, the Greeks used their trademark defense against Real Madrid, holding the eight-time Euro champions t0 14 points in the second quarter and 20 in the third. Kyle Hines and Pero overpowered the Spanish forwards inside.
Former Portland Trail Blazers guard and Spanish national team star Rudy Fernandez led Real Madrid with 21 points. His teammate’s on Spain’s nation team, Sergio Rodriguez and Sergio Llull, scored 17 and 14 points respectively. Madrid lost its first Euro final since 1995 when it fell to KK Cibona in Zaragoza, Spain.
“Spanoulis’ three-pointers changed the game’s rhythm while we were still working to get back into the game, but in the end they were able to control the (lead),” said Real coach Pablo Laso.
Reuters contributed to this report.