Serbs Say That Hope Can Trump Strength

The Final Four is within the reach of possibility, Partizan Belgrade's veteran forward Dusan Kecman told Serbian media yesterday. "Maccabi may be the favorite with its home-court advantage, but with determination and toughness we can win one of the games in Tel Aviv and move the deciding game to Belgrade," said Kecman, who came back to Partizan after a five-year absence and is averaging 7.8 points per game.

"Maccabi is not your typical team, in its makeup and style of play," he added. "We'll have to adjust to that."

Dusko Vujosevic, Partizan's coach said he would settle for splitting one of the first two games, which will be held in Tel Aviv today and Thursday.

"Personally, I would be satisfied if Maccabi would lead 2-1 after Game 3," he said at a press conference. "Maccabi has a stronger team, with more quality players than we have, and they have stronger club logistics, too. But hope is a real thing. If we did not struggle with hope, we would never have reached the top eight teams."

He added Partizan's accomplishment is not only significant because nobody believed the Serb team could reach the playoffs. "It is even bigger because we did it beating Barcelona, Panathinaikos, Maroussi, Olympiacos, Unicaja, Efes Pilsen and Lietuvos Rytas," he said.