I am sure everybody has seen the NBA commercials – just in case you haven’t click here, here or here (not official). I never really thought we could use this for Europe but after tonight’s Cup games around Europe, I think something amazing happened. Well did really something amazing happen?
First of all we all should know what is meant by CUP – like the TIM cup (Italy) or Copa del rey (Spain). It is a competition that probably draws so much national attention since any team can technically win this trophy. In the early stages lower league teams get to compete with second and even first division. In the end it is mostly the first division teams that “survive” but through out the years we have seen man second or even third division teams kicking out a first division team.
To sum it up – the CUP has its own laws – in any country.
Tonight we have been dealing with only first division teams since we are already in the stage of the top eight teams for most of the cups in Europe. But as I mentioned in the beginning, some amazing things happened. Lets start in Germany, where the “bankrupt” team from Cologne tried to survive – well they did not – they lost against German powerhouse Alba Berlin by as much as 33 points.
Lets see what happened in Russia where the final was played between Euroleague title contender CSKA Moscow and Khimky. Guess what – CSKA lost by as much as 18 points and lost the CUP for the first time in three years. Head Coach Ettore Messina had this to say: “We came to Kazan as a very tired team. Last three months we play with seven players and it should have happened especially when we face two leg tournament. Unfortunately, we had no surprises this days. I tried to use our young players but that was not their game. It is too early for them to step on the level. Now we have to come back to Moscow and try to recover before the Top-16 games. It would not be easy. CSKA did not get used to loose.”
Well Ettore, now we know why you are so scared of the Top16 .. Well are you really? I still don’t buy what you try to sell us here but fine, lets wait and see.
So first upset for a Euroleague team in a national cup. Yeah, you are right there are more to come.
The Copa del Rey is a huge event in Spain and as we told you it takes place in Vittoria this year, where the Euroleague team Tau Ceramica is from. Tau was facing another Euroleague team – Unicaja Malaga. There had to be a loser and it wasn’t the home team. Unicaja was sent home 78-71.
In the other game the next Euroleague team FC AXA Barcelona, by the way in Ettore Messina’s group of the Euroleague Top16, had to play against Bilbao. What is Bilbao known for? Well they are tied with Barcelona in the domestic league for third place and one French guy – Frederic Weis – I am sure I don’t have to explain why.
Well starting today, there is another reason. Bilbao won against cup holder Barcelona 70-69.
Right now I told you about two countries and their cups and already three Euroleague teams are out.
Lets go to Italy. I have been thinking about another headline for this post – “Where tip of our foot happens”. The game between Montepaschi Siena – another Euroleague team – and Italian league’s fifth place team Pesaro was one of the most exciting games in the end I have seen in a few years.
It is hard to describe but in the last minute, Pesaro made all of their free throws to take the lead by three and every time Siena came back making a three to to tie the game. With 5 seconds to go, Siena was down three and Stonerook made a long pass to McIntyre who got the ball within the three point line. He made a step back and shot. It went in again. I could not believe it – overtime! Well – I did not see something the referee saw – Terrell McIntyre’s tip of his foot – I mean this was hardly to see in slow motion was on the three point line.
So Siena lost the game because the referee counted two points – which was – in the end – the right decision but really unfortunate for Siena and Terrell McIntyre. Next Euroleague team out.
In the second game, Euroleague disappointment Virtus Bologna hosted Lottomatica Roma – and again another Euroleague team had to lose. But it was the team that was still in the Euroleague comeptition that lost to Virtus Bolgona 69-75.
This makes it five Euroleague teams that are out of the cup so far.
Last but not least the cup final for Israel was played tonight between Maccabi Tel Aviv (Euroleague team) and Jersualem. As BallinEurope reader Calvin points out, Tel Aviv also lost.
What a night – six! Euroleague teams lost tonight in the cup games around Europe. This either proved that the cup is VERY special or that not only Euroleague teams can play basketball in Europe.