09 October, 2018
05 May, 2019
15 Mario Chalmers (BOLO)
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With Dwyane Wade behind him, Mario Chalmers plays the hero role in another trophy

ANTWERP (Belgium) - No matter where he is in the world, when the clutch moments arrive, you know that Mario Chalmers will want to have the ball in his hands. Antwerp offered just another proof.

With two minutes to go in the Final, and his Segafredo Virtus Bologna side feeling the pressure of an Iberostar Tenerife comeback, Mario had a wide open three-pointer from the right corner. It did not go, and you could see that Chalmers wanted to have that moment back.

And so he did. With just over a minute to play, and Tenerife trimming the gap to six points, Chalmers drove to the paint, scanned the situation around the rim, turned around and knocked down a dagger jumper late in the shot clock. In tournaments like this one, with a crowd larger than 16,000, there is always a millisecond in which everything stops. 

The ball going through the net. The deafening silence from the yellow part of the stands, where the Tenerife fans were sitting. The collective gasp from the defenders. And then the slowly approaching noise that the Virtus fans created from the other side of the Sportpaleis Arena. Blink, and you miss it.

"We were struggling a little bit in the second half. So, I've seen the moment to attack, I've seen my spot, where I want to get to... I live for big moments like that. I was able to hit the shot and it means a lot," the two-time NBA champion said after the game.

It didn't seem like he could be the hero. Especially not in the first half, when coach Sasha Djordjevic was talking to him more than usual.

"(Coach told me) just to play my game. I was a little bit under pressure in the first half, I tried to do everything by myself. Coach told me to settle down, to enjoy the moment, and that was the biggest thing for me," Chalmers explained and went on to praise his Bologna coach.

"Sasha is a defensive minded coach, he reminds me a lot of Pat Riley, how he was in the Miami Heat. I'm used to playing coaches like that. A lot of motivation. A lot!"

And you know how lethal Mario can get when he is fueled with a lot of motivation. He proved it at Kansas, he proved it with the Miami Heat and the Memphis Grizzlies, and he is proving it with the Black V in Italy. Taking a European trophy back home did not go unnoticed on a Sunday night in Belgium.

"I got a lot of messages from my guys. Ray Allen hit me up, Dwyane Wade hit me up... They knew I was playing a championship game. That shows what kind of brotherhood we have, we have a bond beyond basketball, we support each other wherever we go. It means a lot for me to hear from those guys."

Although we would very much like to have him back in the Basketball Champions League the next season, a trip back to the USA could be a priority in the 33-year-old's plans.

"Whatever happens, happens. I will enjoy this moment, celebrate with my teammates. When that time comes, I'll think about it," Chalmers said.

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Igor Curkovic

Igor Curkovic

Igor Curkovic is a Basketball Champions League writer and editor since day one of the competition, specializing in Power Rankings and his Takeaways on Gamedays. When he's not covering basketball, he's probably watching a Hajduk Split game somewhere.