After the TOP 16 they begin the playoff of quarterfinals with format to the best to five parties, previous step to the final four. They face in a Spanish duel BARCELONA against REAL MADRID, MACCABI against PARTIZAN, CSKA MOSCU against CAJA LABORAL and OLYMPIACOS against Polish ASSECO PROKOM.
Real Madrid was no match for a Barcelona who had just lost a single match throughout the year. This season the blaugranas were one step ahead of the Madrileños and in this series of quarterfinals was noticed from the beginning, (3-1) for Barcelona.
The final four began with strong emotions because Partizan, honouring their status as a revelation team, made things very difficult for Olympiacos. So much so that they had to wait until the end of an exciting extra time to meet the winner. McCalebb’s direction, Vesely’s versatility and Maric’s good work made the Serbs a terrible opponent but in the end the game of the stars of Olympiacos, Kleiza, Childress or Teodosic weighed more heavily.
After an exceptional season, both in national and international competition, FC Barcelona have won the Euroleague and have shown – not only on paper, but also on track – that they are currently the best team in Europe. By irony of the destiny, the azulgrana team has obtained its second Euroleague in the same scene where, in 1996, it lost the final of the then European League against another Greek team, the Panathinaïkós, with the famous illegal stopper of Vranković to Montero in some last chaotic and endless seconds. If at a particular level the triumph of Barcelona represents the culmination of an institutional project, at a general level also means the confirmation that Spanish basketball continues to live its particular «Golden Age», with successes both at the level of selection (World Cup 2006, European 2009) and at the level of clubs (Barcelona in the Euroleague and Power Electronics Valencia in the Eurocup).
After beating other continental basketball heavyweights such as the millionaire Olympiakós, CSKA and Real Madrid during the competition, Barcelona showed in the Parisian night that its game is a level above the rest. If 2009 was the year of the consecration of Barcelona as the Dream Team of world football, the basketball team seems to have taken over in 2010. On a personal level, the big winner of the night was Juan Carlos Navarro, named MVP of the final (the first Spanish player to receive this award in the history of the European finals). «La Bomba» showed that he grows in important events and always responds: beyond his 21 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists (23 valuation), the Catalan escort scored baskets in decisive moments of the game. The work of Xavi Pascual also deserves special mention. At 37, he becomes the youngest coach to win a Euroleague.
It was expected a final equal between two of the best teams in the continent, with a Barcelona that had demonstrated its power in the Euroleague – with a record of 19 victories by only 2 defeats – and in the national competition – conquest of the Copa del Rey and balance of 30-3 in the ACB League – and an Olympiakós that had been reinforced by a checkbook with the most expensive player in Europe (Josh Childress) and a pleiade of stars at the disposal of Panagiotis Giannakis: the incombustible Papaloukas, the deadly Teodosić and Kleiza, and two of the most decisive pivots of the continent: Bourousis and Baby Shaq Schortsanitis. However, the Paris final had less history than expected because Barcelona showed from the beginning a manifest superiority that ended up undermining the morale of the Greek team. Teodosić, despite his stomach problems, starred in a spectacular start, with seven points that served to maintain the balance on the scoreboard (14-13), but the exit of the Serbian base, the suffocating defense of Grimau and Sada over Papaloukas, the intimidating power of Fran Vazquez (four blocks in the short interval of two minutes) and Mickeal’s scoring ability (ten points in the first quarter) made Barcelona overcome the psychological barrier of the ten points difference (24-13, min. 8). From that moment on, the final went into a different dynamic, with Barcelona entrenched in their best team play and Olympiakos gradually demoralizing, seeing that their efforts to recover were useless. Not even when the Greek table was five points in the third quarter (52-47, min. 26) gave the impression of being able to turn the game, such was being the superiority azulgrana in all aspects.
At half-time Barcelona had an advantage of over ten points (47-36), but above all the feeling that the azulgrana team was in a state of grace and had total control of the match. However, the question remained as to what Olympiakos could offer in the second half, bearing in mind that some of their key players (Childress, Kleiza and Schortsanitis) had not yet come into play. The start of the third quarter seemed to bode well for a Greek comeback: a Childress tray reduced the deficit to seven points (47-40) and the noisy Olympiakos fans began to make themselves felt. The Giannakis hardened their defense with multiple contacts, hindering actions close to the hoop and movements to generate game. In this scenario, Navarro pulled gallons to put the difference back in ten points with a triple bomb (52-42, min. 24), although Childress responded immediately with another pitch of 6.25 and a subsequent tray of Papaloukas tightened the scoreboard (52-47). Even in these circumstances Barcelona did not lose face to the match, and after a partial 8-0 was placed again with a reassuring income (60-47, min. 27). Victor Sada, replacing a Ricky Rubio who was not having his best day, was revealing himself as a superb game director for his team. At the end of the third quarter it was arrived with advantage of Barcelona of 14 points (64-50), although the azulgrana set no longer had the same scoring fluidity that in the first half.
The beginning of the last period came to dissipate the few doubts that remained on who would be the winner of the final. Ricky Rubio scored the first basket with a play «mark of the house» (theft of ball, counterattack and tray), and from that moment the game became a fight against the clock for Olympiakós that, between its own precipitation in attack and the significant silence of its fans, gradually was lowering its arms. Only Kleiza and Childress saw ring sporadically, arguments too scarce to jeopardize the triumph of Barcelona, which as the chronometer advanced was reinforced in their conviction that would be the new champion of Europe. The last minutes were an authentic azulgrana festival: a triple of Lorbek established the maximum advantage of all the party (86-65), and even Lakovič and Trias could enter in game to enjoy the victory of his equipment.