Maccabi Tel Aviv to Play Panathinaikos in Euroleague Final

The Israeli basketball team pulls through with a victory in the semifinal against Real Madrid 82-63.

Maccabi Tel Aviv pushed its way through to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague final on Friday night with a victory over Real Madrid 82-63.

The Israeli team is set to battle Panathinaikos on Sunday at 5:30pm, after the Greek team beat Montepaschi Siena 77-69 on Friday.

Maccabi Tel Aviv fans - Reuters - 6.5.11
Reuters

Sunday's final will bring together Europe's two most dominant teams in recent history, as each team plays for its sixth continental trophy. This will also be Maccabi's seventh Euroleague final in one dozen seasons.

Though Maccabi got off to a sketchy start in Friday's semifinal, allowing Madrid to lead early on in the game, the Israeli team battled back to a 39-32 lead at halftime.

Head Coach David Blatt displayed better tactics in the second half for dealing with Madrid's offense.

Pargo pulled the yellow-shirted team to an 8-point lead with a spectacular slam but Madrid closed the gap to 2 and was trailing closely behind Maccabi by just 6 points late in the third quarter. But the Israeli team picked up its game soon after, widening the gap to a peak of 23 by late in the fourth quarter.

Chuck Eidson stood out in Friday's semifinal, scoring 19 points, grabbing 8 rebounds and setting a Euroleague semifinals record with 6 steals. Other notable Maccabi players were Sofoklis Schortsanitis, who scored 16 points, Guy Pnini with 14 points, Jeremy Pargo scored 13 points with 7 assists and David Blu tallied 10.

Real Madrid's Ante Tomic went out with an injury, but not before scoring 17 points to lead the team and Felipe Reyes added 15 points and 14 rebounds.

Following the game, Blatt said "Today we played for the audience. On Sunday we're playing for the entire country."