It was a Friday for the ages at the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four in Cologne, Germany. Perhaps the most dramatic semifinal day in Final Four history. And certainly the first that had both semifinal games decided by 3 points or fewer. Therefore it was only fitting for it to end on a last-second game-winner.
And that is exactly what happened thanks to FC Barcelona’s Cory Higgins, who nailed a stop-and-pop mid-range jumper with 0.8 seconds left on the clock to lift his team to an 84-82 victory over AX Armani Exchange Milan.
In a tight game, in which Barcelona rallied from an 8-point third-quarter deficit, things were tied at 82-82 in the final minute of the fourth quarter. When Milan’s Kevin Punter, the team’s top scorer with 23 points on the night, missed a potential go-ahead three-pointer, Victor Claver pulled down an offensive board and quickly gave the ball to Higgins with 6 seconds to go.
“Competitors, like I consider myself, live for moments like that”, Higgins said after the game.
He took the ball the length of the floor, found a spot just above the foul line and sank a well-defended jumper over Shavon Shields.
“With just 6 seconds left, I like those situations when there’s nothing to think about,” the two-time champion explained. “You just have to get the best possible shot you can, so the only thing I was thinking about was just to get to a spot and raise up and shoot it. I got to my spot and, thankfully, it went in.”
Higgins finished the game with 11 points and his heroics were even more dramatic considering he fell into foul trouble early in the game and played fewer than 23 minutes, well below his average.
But none of that bothered him to make a shot that sent Barcelona to its first EuroLeague championship game in 11 years, while ending Milan’s quest to get there for the first time in 33 years, creating one of the most memorable moments in the history of the EuroLeague Final Four.