The European basketball season came to an end for all the Aussie men, delivering two national league champions and another two who finished as runners-up.
Jonah Bolden concluded what could well be his last season in Europe as the Israeli Winner League champion, joining fellow Aussie Mitch McCarron who came away with the Slovenian national league title.
Maccabi Tel Aviv were barely challenged in the final as they easily accounted for Hapoel Holon by 20 points (95-75) in front of 11,000 spectators. Neven Spahija’s players were in total control from the start, winning the first quarter by 11 and maintaining their own destiny until the last whistle. It was to be Maccabi’s first Israeli title after three years of trying.
Even as Bolden raised the championship trophy above his head, he did it without wearing his playing uniform; sidelined in Final 4 and playing just one game throughout the playoffs. As a source explained, Bolden’s omission happened because of the league’s rule that requires two Israeli passport holders on the court at all times. Maccabi entrusted centre Alex Tyus and power forward Jake Cohen, therefore relegating fellow big men Bolden and Artsiom Parakhouski to spectators.
But Maccabi’s decision ultimately paid off, with Tyus going on to win the Final 4 MVP, providing 10 points and 15 rebounds in the Championship game while Cohen scored a team-high 18 points.
Champions 2017/18 pic.twitter.com/8XA1H4iVZY
— Maccabi Tel Aviv BC (@MaccabitlvBC) June 14, 2018
While one Aussie had to see his team triumph from the bench, another tried to fight for the same feeling by battling on the court. Unfortunately for Ben Madgen and Lietuvos rytas Vilnius, they felt short. After tying the Lithuanian final series at 1-1, Lietuvos rytas lost three games in a row against Zalgiris Kaunas to finish the season as runner-up.
Madgen played a lot in their three final games (80-90, 78-82, 70-80), but the team missed a big impact from him. The shooting guard averaged 6.7 points and 1.7 assists with just 8-23 shooting from the field in a total average of 24 minutes across those games. Madgen added a silver medal to his bronze from last season and became the fourth and final Aussie to register a finals achievement this year in Europe (Isaac Humphries and FMP finished as runner-ups in Serbia).
It is worth to mention that for EuroLeague’s 3rd place winner Zalgiris, it was their 20th national title out of a possible 25 in the LKL’s history.