Murcia critical of officiating as AEK look forward to Champions League Final
As AEK look forward to Sunday’s FIBA Basketball Champions League Final, UCAM Murcia players and coaches remain critical of the officiating in Friday’s semi-final…
A narrow 77-75 win has AEK headed to their first-ever FIBA Champions League Final as the Enosi made good on home court advantage against UCAM Murcia at the OAKA Olympic Indoor Hall on Friday night.
Despite narrowly conceding a 15-point lead, AEK managed to hold on to clinch a berth in Sunday’s final where the hosts of the Final Four will look to overcome AS Monaco in hopes of securing the second-ever edition of the FIBA Champions League crown.
Manny Harris notched 20 points to lead all AEK scorers but the American remained focused after the final buzzer as he look towards the Final as a job not yet done.
“We are close but we are not done yet“, Harris told reporters. “We have confidence and we will give everything we have.”
Harris admitted that having the support of the home crowd in Athens was a big part of AEK’s success not only on Friday, but throughout the season.
“They are great, they have helped us getting wins all year, so respect to them,” stated a proud Harris.
AEK coach Dragan Sakota explained the formula for his side’s success on the night as he looked towards Sunday’s Final as a new challenge.
“My players deserved the win,” proclaimed Sakota in his post-match press conference.
“In the end, we had two turnovers that almost cost us. We played against a team that runs in transition, with off-screen movement, fights in the offensive glass, and has good balance. It was very difficult for us to adjust to this kind of game. We controlled most of the game. One more big success this year for us, and now we are looking to play against a better team in AS Monaco.”
While the mood within the AEK camp was upbeat and optimistic about Sunday’s Final, the topic of discussion was very different within the Murcia ranks.
The Spanish side’s players and coaching staff were left to rue missed opportunities, but the unified feeling in the Murcia ranks was that poor officiating cost the club a shot at making the Final.
Augusto Lima, who was the most animated Murcia player at the final buzzer as he chased the officiating team around the court, explained how he felt the referees “stole” the game.
“It’s the first time I have to point to a referee. It is clear what he has done to us,” a frustrated Lima told reporters post-game.
Lima also mentioned how his side will come back stronger in a hope to restore their pride when the Spanish side battles MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in the Consolation Final on Sunday.
“But well, we have the third and fourth place match and we have to win it because for us, it’s a matter of pride to be here. We have to congratulate everyone because we fought and we have done a good job. But, yes, he stole the game.”