The season MVP played like one and then some in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game, but at the conclusion of the most intense and competitive season many fans can remember, even that was not enough for Sasha Vezenkov and Olympiacos Piraeus.
After being heartbroken in the semifinals in Belgrade on the game's last shot, the same thing happened in the championship game this time. The 2022-23 season EuroLeague Most Valuable Player feels even more frustrated this time.
"Last year was frustrating, this year is even more," Vezenkov said after scoring 29 points and grabbing 9 rebounds for a performance index rating of 34 in the 78-79 loss to Real Madrid on Sergio Llull's game-winner with 3.1 seconds left. "We have to face it. It will be a tough night and some tough moments.
Vezenkov's scoring tied the championship game record alongside Shane Larkin of Anadolu Efes Pilsen in 2019. His PIR of 34 also tied a championship game record, matching Manuel Ginobili's 34 from 2002 for Kinder Bologna in another losing effort and Anthony Parker's 34 for Maccabi Tel Aviv in a blowout victory in 2004 for the title.
Olympiacos lost in last year's semis on a buzzer-beater by Anadolu Efes Istanbul star Vasilije Micic. This time around, Llull made his only shot of the game before a chance to steal the title back for Olympiacos was missed at the buzzer by Kostas Sloukas.