You could feel the tension in the air across the continent over the last 36 hours as six Turkish Airlines EuroLeague teams prepared to test fate in three separate Game 5s to close out the playoffs on Tuesday night in what is sure to be dramatic fashion. Each team did its best to hype its fans and give itself a mental edge in the last 40-minute fight to reach the Final Four in Cologne, Germany later this month!
Anadolu Efes Istanbul vs. Real Madrid: 19:45 local, 18:45 CET
Despite knowing they cannot help the team at the Sinan Erdem Dome due to health and safety restrictions, Efes appealed to its fans to give their support at a distance for the dream that both have been chasing for years: “When we stood together behind this promise, we achieved victory by fighting shoulder to shoulder. Although we may not be side by side now, it is time to gather around the same word once more, to focus once more on victory. All together, loud: “#We will win”
Real Madrid made a bit of news with a clip on Monday from the Spanish capital that showed star center Walter Taveres, who has missed the last three games of the series, warming up at practice. It was confirmed later that the team had traveled to Istanbul with the big man, whose presence, if he plays, could be a key factor in Tuesday’s showdown.
AX Armani Exchange Milan vs. FC Bayern Munich: 20:45 local and CET
Milan is bringing its fans along step by step for the day’s festivities by mounting a “Game 5 marathon” on social media that has already included clips of the team’s morning shootaround and will continue through the post-game press conference tonight.
Bayern arrived in Milan on Sunday night and the next day gave its media special access to one of the stars of the season and the series, forward Vladimir Lucic, who gave some great insight into the game-breaking play between him and teammate Paul Zipser that forced Game 5:
“I saw the position of Shavon Shields and just pointed the finger to make sure that Paulie would throw this pass. Everybody thought that it was a crazy play, but I think that, in the end, it was the best decision out of Paulie because Shavon had a great position and I don’t know what would have happened if Paulie went to finish it by himself or try to pass me any other pass than the alley-oop. In the end, I just tried to reach the ball and dunk it. It was good.”
Watch it again in slo-mo!
FC Barcelona vs. Zenit St Petersburg: 21:00 local and CET
Barcelona wrapped up everyone’s sentiments going into Tuesday night very well with a tweet that proclaimed “ONE GAME. ONE DREAM”. That goes for the league leaders as they prepare to host Zenit, but for all the other five teams taking the court tonight, as well.
Zenit, for it’s part, chose a Star Wars theme to give context to that team attempting two historic feats tonight: the first series win by an eighth seed over a first seed in the playoffs, and an as-yet-unprecedented Game 5 road win. The lightsabers are out!
The stage is set for the most decisive night in EuroLeague Playoffs history. Yes, believe the hype!