Maccabi Tel Aviv Wins Euroleague Championship

Against all odds, underdog Israeli basketball team defeats Real Madrid 98-86.

Aviv Lavie
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Aviv Lavie

Israel's Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv basketball team defeated Real Madrid 98-86 and won the Euroleague championship game in Milan on Sunday evening. This is the club's sixth European championship title.

Maccabi entered the final an underdog, with few expecting it to get into the Final Four, never mind to go all the way and win the championship.

Tyrese Rice led Maccabi with 26 points - 14 in overtime. Ricky Hickman netted18 points, Devin Smith 15 and 7 rebounds, and David Blu finished with 14 points.

Some 10,000 yellow-and-blue fans traveled to Italy for the Final Four tournament.

It secured its place in the Final Four with a stunning 86-66 home win over Emporio Armani Milan, completing a 3-1 victory in their best-of-five quarter-final series.

Then, in the semi-final last Friday night, Maccabi came from behind to defeat the heavily-favored CSKA Moscow by a last-second basket, after CSKA had been up by 15 points late in the game.

Even coach David Blatt admitted after the semi-final that Maccabi had overshot every possible expectation during the season. When asked if the sky is the limit, Blatt said that in this storm of a season, Maccabi long ago touched the sky and reached the moon.

CSKA's advantage in funding, height, depth and talent was overwhelming– and the figures from the game spoke for themselves.

Maccabi was outrebounded 43-30; it reached the foul line only 6 times, scoring only half of those; its field goal percentage inside the arch was 45%, compared to CSKA's 56%; it got very little production out of two of its most promising players (Schortsanitis had 4 points in 14 minutes and Ingles had 2 in 15).

If Blatt had seen those figures before the game, he would have thrown in the towel. According to the known rules of basketball, these are the stats of a loser. But as we have learned before, Maccabi is operating under different laws this season.

Maccabi Tel Aviv players celebrate their victory, May 18, 2014.Credit: AFP
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Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Yogev Ohayon goes for the basket during the Euroleague Final Four final match between Real Madrid and Maccabi Tel Aviv, in Milan, Italy, Sunday, May 18, 2014Credit: AP
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Maccabi Tel Aviv supporters celebrate in Rabin Square.Credit: Moti Milrod
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Maccabi Tel Aviv's supporters celebrate on Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.Credit: AFP