CITY OF HISTORY, CULTURE, FASHION, DESIGN AND TRADE, MILAN ATTRACTED VISITORS THIS YEAR FOR A VERY DIFFERENT REASON: THE TURKISH AIRLINES EUROLEAGUE FINAL FOUR BROUGHT BASKETBALL FANS TOGETHER AT A FABULOUS EVENT IN THE CITY.
Milano’s famous Piazza del Duomo hosted a series of events throughout the tournament. First among the events that kicked off at Fanzone on May 15 was the awards ceremony for the season’s top players: Bogdan Bogdanovic from Partizan NIS Belgrade took the award for “rising star”, while Bryant Dunston of Olympiacos Piraeus was “best defensive player” and EA7 Emporio Armani Milan’s Keith Langford “top scorer”. Real Madrid star Sergio Rodriguez was voted “most valuable player”.
THE WAY TO THE FINAL
The semi-final matches played on May 16 ended in some surprise results. European basketball’s two long-standing teams, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and CSKA Moscow, clashed in the day’s first match. Fifteen points behind its rival CSKA Moscow, which dominated the first three quarters, Maccabi surged ahead in the last five seconds. Fumbling its last ball, CSKA Moscow abandoned its final dreams at the Mediolanum Forum.
The second match of the day was widely dubbed “El Classico”. While neither side could gain an edge over the other in the first half of this contest between Spain’s two big clubs, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, the second half ended with a crushing victory by Real Madrid and a final score of 100-62, unseen in Final Four history.
THE LAST BREATH
The first contest on the last day of the Final Four was the battle for third place between CSKA Moscow and FC Barcelona. Third place in the fiercely fought match went to FC Barcelona with a stellar 20-point performance by Juan Carlos, who has now written his name among the game’s legends.
NO END OF SURPRISES IN MILAN!
As the final match between Real Madrid and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv approached, those who believed Europe’s top team would be decided in 40 minutes had no idea how wrong they were. With big fan support behind it, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv gave Real Madrid, which had surged ahead with its stars’ performances in the first quarter, a hard time and returned to the locker room at half-time just two points down: 35-33. The second half as well was a virtual basketball spectacular. The two teams went head to head to the end of the fourth quarter when Maccabi Tel Aviv gained a four-point advantage, 73-69, in the final minute. Going twice to the free throw line without faltering, Real Madrid then tied the match 73-73 just 21 seconds before the final buzzer, proof positive that 40 minutes was not enough to decide Europe’s best. And a big surprise in Milan after 45 years without overtime play in the final. With attacks in overtime that left Real Madrid’s defense no chance, not to mention the incredible performance of their American-born Montenegrin star Tyrese Rice, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv captured the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Championship for the sixth time, 98-86. Tyrese Rice was voted MVP of the final, and ten thousand Maccabi fans went home ecstatic.
EYE OF THE FAN - ITALIAN JOB!
Sponsored by Turkish Airlines, the Eye of the Fan events reflected game's background to the fans. Fans taking part in the slam-dunk contest were treated to a different experience in the 360-degree instant replays. And a tramcar filled with basketballs gave fans in Milan a chance to win a round-trip airline ticket to Istanbul.
ONE TEAM ON THE SCENE
A Turkish Airlines-sponsored project that aims to reintegrate socio-economically disadvantaged children into society, “One Team” brought together in Milan the world’s star basketball players and the legends of the city’s two major football teams, AC Milan and FC Internazionale.