On an evening that was supposed to be all about Fernando Torres and Andrés Iniesta's farewells, an insatiable Real Madrid grabbed the headlines as their basketball team won the 10th European title in their history. A sign of things to come for their football counterparts in Kiev? If so, it would be the first time Los Blancos have managed to claim both continental crowns in the same season. We'll have to wait and see. For now, though, let our focus be on that image of Felipe Reyes lifting basketball's premier European club trophy after what has been a very tough year for the team. Following a bad start to the season caused by a lengthy injury list, they then struggled on as their walking wounded gradually returned to the fold, but have now come into the business end of the campaign in fine fettle.
Real showed such determination to claim European glory
Having got to the Final Four not without difficulty, they were by no means favourites; but when it came to will to win, they were not to be found wanting. They beat CSKA impressively in the semis, before producing what was arguably an even better display in the trophy decider against Fenerbahce. They showed supreme focus, conceding barely any turnovers and putting in a defensive performance that sucked the resolve out of their opponents, who were backed by a fervent support that vastly outnumbered Real's following. It was pure basketball: team work, cool heads, pinpoint shooting and spells of brilliance from particular individuals, among whom special mention must go to Fabien Caseur for a great third quarter, and to Luka Doncic, chosen as MVP in what, regrettably, will have been his last EuroLeague.
Boss Laso typifies the age-old Real coaching style
Real Madrid boast a squad intelligently put together by the head of the basketball section, Juan Carlos Sánchez, and well managed by Pablo Laso, a guy who goes about his job in the style traditionally associated with the club's coaches: keep it simple, leave the limelight to the players, and instil an attitude of hard work and togetherness, and of respect for the game and its history. All with a core of Spanish players who set the tone for the team: Reyes, the captain; Rudy Fernández, who wisely opted to return from the NBA and, since then, has enjoyed his basketball much more than he ever did over there; and Sergio Llull, the man who preferred to stay in Spain rather than seeking an American adventure, even if it meant less money. They lead the way, but the rest of the team is with them every step of it.