First, just watch this. The team in yellow is Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv. The green team is Darussafaka of Turkey.
What you see is a close game in its final minute in which both teams are bricking free throws on purpose. Let me try to explain.
The things you need to know here are:
1. The results of this game would advance one of these teams in EuroLeague while relegating the other to the second-tier EuroCup.
2. Maccabi stood a game behind Darussafaka in the standings, meaning a win would tie them, and the tiebreakers after overall record are head-to-head record and head-to-head aggregate scoring.
3. Darussafaka won the first meeting between these two teams back in November by 11 points.
The upshot of the above: Maccabi had to win Thursday by 11 or more points to grab the final EuroLeague spot. If they lost, or if they won by fewer than 11 points, they'd move down to EuroCup.
With under two minutes remaining and the game hanging in the balance, Maccabi knew they could win, but they weren't going to be able to build that 11-point lead. They needed more time. Overtime. So, once they had tied the game, they did everything in their power to keep it tied. Darussafaka quickly figured this out and tried to break the tie at all costs, even if it meant losing by a couple points. This meant:
- Maccabi (Jordan Farmar, specifically!) held the ball for an entire shot clock.
- Darussafaka intentionally fouled Maccabi.
- Maccabi intentionally missed their free throws.
- Darussafaka drew a foul by accident at one point and intentionally missed one of two free throws -- clever, because a one-point difference created a pickle for Maccabi. Darussafaka's coach instructed his team *not* to foul anymore so Maccabi would be forced to score a basket and take a small lead.
- Maccabi, now down 1, responded by wildly trying and failing to draw a foul, driving directly at their opponents. Darussafaka simply refused to defend on these possessions:
- Maccabi eventually relented and attempted a field goal, which went in and gave them a small lead.
- Darussafaka responded by just inbounding the ball onto the floor and batting it or letting it roll around, refusing to pick it up.
Maccabi eventually won by 4, losing the head-to-head in aggregate, and falling out of EuroLeague. If they could have scored on their own basket, that might have made shaving the regulation score to a tie easier, but that loophole was closed after Real Madrid used it to *avoid* overtime in 1962. Alas, you can cover up some stupid, but there will always be more stupid.
You can watch the whole thing here:
(h/t Austin Green for helping me figure this out)
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SB Nation presents: You have to see this dunk to believe it