Euroleague Final Four – Madrid 2015, semi-finals

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Such different games, such unexpected outcomes and two great teams will meet again Sunday evening.

Olympiacos’ coach Sfairopoulos said it all just before the semi-final against CSKA: we want to take the game to our home ground, we want to play it our style.

Both Real Madrid and Olympiacos did exactly that. Real Madrid used all the improved weaponry acquired this year. Ayón+Nocioni+Rivers were the unexpected protagonists of a devastating 2nd quarter. Fenerbahce was forced to play the game they precisely did not want to. The direction by Sergio Rodríguez was faultless, the intensity of the defence several levels above that of last year’s. Every single player made a contribution, and that was the key issue of the game because Rudy did not play particularly well today and at some point it looked like half of the roster could end up fouled out. By the beginning of the 3rd quarter Real Madrid was 26 points ahead and playing their much celebrated shoot-&-run game. And then the party stopped. I think that rather than Real slowing down what actually happened was that Fenerbahce decided to play a decent game. Bjelica had some brief moments of genious and Goudelock gave the impression that he could master the pace of the game. But Fenerbahce had broken down too early in the game and they never really completed a real comeback.

Some nice surprises and some disappointments. Ayón has paid back today his salary Euro for Euro. He demolished both Zoric and Vesely who always looked lightweight in comparison. KC Rivers scored 17 points, 5/6 from the 3 point line, who could ask for more?

The disappointment came from Vesely and particularly from Bjelica. Bjelica lost it completely shortly after joining the fight and did not manage to get his mind focused again.

Obradovic did not manage to get Fenerbahce into the final, but I am pretty sure we shall see them again soon.

The other semi-final was…how can one explain what happened without repeating stereotypes? CSKA displayed again a surprising degree of fragility. They did not close the game when things looked bright and they paid for their mistakes. It is not a good idea to play Russian roulette against Spanoulis, but that is exactly what they did. I am not belittling Spanoulis’ genious, all I am saying is that CSKA played again a regular season game, not a Final Four semi-final.

Real Madrid and Olympiacos will play again next Sunday, a true classic of modern European basketball. They are clearly the most competitive teams around today. Real Madrid will play its third consecutive final. I can’t wait.

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