CSKA Moscow won their seventh Euroleague title and the first since 2008 after inspired performances by guards Milos Teodosic and Nando De Colo led them to a dramatic 101-96 overtime win over Fenerbahce Istanbul in Sunday’s final.
Ending a long personal wait in Europe’s premier club competition, Serbia captain Teodosic racked up 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds to claim his first title after falling short in six previous Final Four tournaments.
“It’s a huge stone off my back and I must admit we were a bit fortunate to come out on top after spilling a 21-point lead in the second half,” Teodosic, draped in his country’s flag, told reporters.
“I started to wonder whether history was about to repeat itself and bite us again.
“We took our feet off the gas pedal too early and they took full advantage but we dug deep and forced them into submission.
“It’s a fantastic feeling to lift this trophy. I wish I had done it sooner but it will give me a massive confidence boost to repeat the feat and make it a habit.”
It was also the maiden title for CSKA coach Dimitris Itoudis, who was his Fenerbahce counterpart Zeljko Obradovic’s assistant in their 1999-2012 spell at Panathinaikos when the pair won five Euroleague titles together at the Greek club.
CSKA seemed to be in the driving seat after engineering a 24-3 run in the second quarter to turn a 27-26 deficit into a 50-30 halftime lead, silencing around 8,000 boisterous Turkish fans among the 13,000 crowd in the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Having lost two finals and four semis since their previous success, including the 2012 championship game when they gave up a 19-point lead against Olympiakos Piraeus, the Russian giants nearly suffered another heartbreaking twist.
Roared on by their reinvigorated faithful, Fenerbahce turned the match on its head when they took an 83-81 lead before Viktor Khryapa forced the additional five minutes with a buzzer-beating basket from an offensive rebound.
CSKA then found another gear in overtime and pulled away as their battling rivals ran out of steam.
Fenerbahce briefly nosed ahead again after Greek playmaker Kostas Sloukas nailed a three-pointer but CSKA came storming back thanks to Frenchman De Colo, who finished with a game-high 22 points and was named the final’s most valuable player.
American forward Kyle Hines added 15 for the Russian side, while Ekpe Udoh, Pero Antic and Luigi Datome scored 16 each for Fenerbahce.
The Turkish team were not helped by dreadful free-throw shooting from their influential Czech centre Jan Vesely, who hit only one of 10 shots from the foul line.
Earlier on Sunday, Russia’s Lokomotiv Krasnodar beat Spanish rivals Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 85-75 in the third-place playoff.