The above video is truly extraordinary, and one of the craziest endings to a sporting event I’ve ever seen.
It is the final Euroleague group stage game between Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel, yellow) and Darussafaka (Turkey, green). It determines who will advance to the next round of the Euroleague, and who will have to finish their season in the second-tier Eurocup. And just like the continental soccer competitions the Euroleague is modeled after, point differential is a tiebreaker. A win by Maccabi Tel Aviv will see both teams finish with a 4-6 record, so they need to win by at least 11 points to win the tiebreaker.
Darussafaka ties the game at 65-65 with 1:23 left, putting Maccabi Tel Aviv into a pickle. Since they probably can’t outscore Darussafaka by 11 in the final 83 seconds, they would prefer the game goes into overtime, where they’d have five whole minutes to try for the blowout. So Maccabi Tel Aviv point guard Jordan Farmar simply dribbles and lets the shot clock expire.
After missing a shot, Darussafaka wises up. Since they don’t need to win the game—just lose by fewer than 11 points—they foul Farmar. But Farmar has a counter: he intentionally misses his free throws. After this happens a second time—all the while Darussafaka is trying and failing to score—a Darussafaka player is fouled while attempting a putback. He then does something very clever.
After making his first free throw to take a one-point lead, he intentionally misses his second. The only way to score a single point is at the free throw line, and you can see a Maccabi Tel Aviv player attempt to draw a foul, but no dice. Eventually they realize the only thing to do is to try and score the 12 necessary points. They get five of them to win by four, but it’s not enough to see them advance.
This problem doesn’t exist in soccer because there is no overtime (during group stages, at least). A team needing to score three goals to win on goal differential has to do so in regulation, because if the game ends in a tie it’s simply over.
It seems like the Euroleague needs to come up with a new tiebreaker that takes the rules of basketball into account.
h/t SB Nation