Euroleague 2023, probably the best edition of Euroleague so far, will name its Queen on May 21, 2023 at Zalgirio Arena where Olympiacos Piraeus and Real Madrid will compete for the European crown.
The Greeks, led from the bench by Georgios Bartzokas, the coach who brought them the last Euroleague trophy in 2013 also against Real Madrid, dream of repeating that season, this time Spanoulis’ place in that final will be taken by this season’s MVP Sasha Vezenkov, the man of the semi-final with Monaco. In the semi-finals, Olympiacos achieved probably the best quarter 3 achieved by any team in the Euroleague and certainly the best quarter in the history of the Final 4, that quarter won 27-2 became the quarter with the fewest points scored by a team in the Final 4. Thanks to that quarter, the Greeks managed to recover from 29-41 at halftime and win 76-62. Vezenkov had 19 points, 6 rebounds, Papanikolaou 15 points, 8 rebounds and Sloukas 9 points, 7 assists, also present at that 2013 final.
Real reached the final after surprisingly winning El Clasico in the semi-final of the Euroleague, Tavares forcing Barcelona to shoot a lot from the 3-point line, more precisely 39 times in 40 minutes scoring 14 of them. The difference was made by Barcelona’s superstar, Nikola Mirotic, who finished with 3 points and 1 of 10 shooting (0 of 7 from the 3-point line). Tavares again had a monster game with 20 points and 15 rebounds, helped by Hezonja 14 points, 9 rebounds and Rodriguez 12 points and 5 assists. The Spaniards also have fond memories of the final matches with Olympiakos, 3 players from the current team: Sergio Lull, Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez won the final against the Greeks in 2015.
Olympiakos has shown this season that they know how to stop Tavares, winning both regular season games and managing to hold the Real Madrid center to 8 cumulative rebounds. For the Spaniards, the mission will be even more difficult due to the absences: Deck, Poirier and Yabusele, 3 very important people in the fight for rebounds.
The third final in the last 10 years between them, it already looks like a classic Final 4. It will be a duel between 2 exceptional players, Sasha Vezenkov (17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds) future NBA player and Edy Tavares (11.2 points, 6.8 rebounds) former NBA player. The absences of Real Madrid, the form of Vezenkov throughout this season and the superior experience of Georgios Bartzokas in front of Mateo Chus make me tilt the scales in favor of the Greeks.