Efes Pilsen defended the EuroLeague title, beating Real Madrid in the finals. The game at Belgrade’s Stark Arena was a dramatic one, but the Turkish powerhouse managed to win back-to-back titles taking down Los Blancos, 58-57.
The hero of the finals was Vasilije Micic, who would win the MVP award, and prove once again that he is the best point guard in Europe. Micic is the last year’s EuroLeague MVP, and despite having a solid offer from the Oklahoma City Thunder, who holds the rights on his contract, the Serb decided to stay in Europe, becoming one of the most expensive players outside the NBA.
“I am very happy to win the title at home,” he stated following the game.
— Anadolu Efes SK (@AnadoluEfesSK) May 19, 2022
Micic scored 23 points, 8-for-15 from the field, but also forced nine fouls. In the clutch moments, the Serb stepped up, taking some pretty tough shots and making all sorts of problems for Real’s defense. He made the buzzer-beater in the semifinals to eliminate Olympiacos, which is why he completely deserved the award for the best player.
The Spanish side started the game better, reaching a 12-6 lead early on. It was obvious in the first few minutes that this game won’t see too many baskets. The defenses were in the center of attention, with Walter Tavares scoring the majority of the points for Real, and on the other side, Micic and Shane Larkin holding Efes in the game.
Tavares scored 12 points and had seven boards in the opening quarter, but the Turkish champions adjusted to his game as time went by, slowing down the robust center. He would end the game with 14 points, which was a team-high, and 11 rebounds. Tavares was the only player in Real with a double-digit number of buckets, and that tells a lot about how tough of defense took place in Stark Arena.
Real made only six threes in 33 attempts or 18.2%, which was one of their worst performances this year. Throughout the entire event, Pablo Laso’s unit struggled with long-distance shooting, but despite that, they had a nine-point edge in the third period, 40-31.
Efes was furious at the end of the third sequence and the start of the final, flipping the situation on the floor and taking the lead. Real didn’t break, and more than 18,000 fans saw a dramatic ending in which both sides exchanged blows, often changing the lead.
— Turkish Airlines EuroLeague (@EuroLeague) May 21, 2022
The problem for Real in the final seconds was the fact that they still didn’t reach the bonus, and with Efes having the ball in its possession, they couldn’t make a foul to send the rivals to the foul line.
Apart from Micic, Tibor Pleiss was excellent for Efes, with 19 points and seven boards, and two blocks, missing only two of his 10 shots from the field. Larkin added 10 with four assists, but the sharpshooter had six boards, helping his frontcourt restrain the rivals.
Veteran Sergio Llull had nine points for Real, Anthony Randolph six, while Deck, Poirier, and Hanga all added five buckets each.
Efes has been the dominant force in Europe over the past four years. They lost the finals in 2019 and were the best team the next season, but the season didn’t conclude due to COVID-19 pandemics. After that, they won two titles in a row, beating Spanish teams in the finals, Barcelona last season, 86-81, and Real tonight. It will be interesting to see what happens with Micic next, as he has an NBA out clause in his contract, and there are already several teams who want his services.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.