Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv rocked Real Madrid 82-63 at Palau Sant Jordi on Friday night in the second semifinal at the 2011 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four to book a spot in the title game. Chuck Eidson scored 19 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and set a Euroleague semifinals record with 6 steals to lead Maccabi to the final, where it will meet old rival Panathinaikos, which defeated Montepaschi Siena 77-69 earlier Friday in the first semifinal. With the win Maccabi, reached the Euroleague final for the seventh time in a dozen seasons, tied Madrid for the most appearances ever in the Euroleague title game with 14 and on Sunday will go for its sixth continental crown, which would be second only to Madrid’s eight. Sofoklis Schortsanitis added 16 points, Guy Pnini 14, Jeremy Pargo tallied 13 and 7 assists and David Blu scored 10 for the winners. Madrid led early, but Maccabi battled back and held a 32-29 lead at halftime. Maccabi then jumped out to an 8-point lead on a spectacular Pargo slam. Madrid closed the gap to 2 and was down just 6 late in the third quarter before Maccabi went on a 13-2 charge to take a commanding lead and coasted the rest of the way, with the lead peaking at 23. Ante Tomic posted 17 points to lead Madrid before going out with an injury and Felipe Reyes added 15 points and 14 rebounds in defeat.
After both teams missed on their first possessions, Tomic put Madrid on the board first and a Reyes jumper doubled the lead. Both teams seemed to have cases of nervousness with some sloppy plays early, but Guy Pnini threw the monkey off Maccabi’s back with a three-pointer. Sergio Llull extended Madrid to 3-6 before Maccabi finally got Schortsanitis involved with a basket-plus-foul. Maccabi missed a chance to tie or even go ahead when Pargo missed twice from the line. Reyes corralled an offensive rebound at the other end and banked it in to boost Madrid. After both teams missed long jumpers, Pargo pulled up and tied the game at 8-8 with a triple. Richard Hendrix was slapped with an unsportsmanlike foul for holding on to Tomic, but he missed both of the resulting free throws. However on the resulting possession, Sergio Llull added a bucket for the Whites. Eidson used a slick move to get his first points and tie the game again. Pargo missed from the line for a third time before hitting the back end of a pair to give Maccabi its first lead, 10-11. Tal Burstein handling the ball dished to Pnini for a triple to extend the lead. Pnini hammered D’Or Fischer and was called for an unsportsmanlike foul after the latter grabbed an offensive rebound and looked to score. Fischer made the resulting free throws to narrow the gap to 14-12 at the end of the quarter.
Blu brought the Maccabi fans to their feet with a three-pointer from the top of the key to start the second quarter. After Madrid stopped Sofo inside Reyes narrowed the gap thanks to a fine assist from Carlos Suarez. Maccabi jumped ahead after Pnini nailed another three and Blu spotted Schortsanitis trailing on a play for a slam that lifted the lead to 22-14 and caused Madrid head coach Lele Molin to call for a timeout. Pablo Prigioni got free for a triple from the corner and Tomic drew a foul from Schortsanitis as the Whites worked their way back. Reyes remained active on the offensive glass , drawing a foul from Milan Macvan and brining his team within 3. Eidson went inside and made it 24-19 midway through the second quarter, but a suddenly hot Prigioni sank a second triple. Schortsanitis went right at the Madrid defense and managed to force Reyes into a foul, but missed twice from the line. Tomic spotted an open Reyes, who knotted the game at 24-24. Richard Hendrix came in for Sofo and put the yellow-and-blue crew back on top. Then Pargo created an opening for Hendrix for a two-handed jam. However Tomic drew a foul from Hendrix – his second –and scored a hook over him to make it 28-27. Sofo came in for Hendrix and quickly scored underneath, but the centers remained centers of attention. Prigioni assisted to Tomic again and Blu dished to Sofo. A Tomic miss and an offensive foul on Schortsanitis ended that run, but Maccabi held on for a 32-29 halftime advantage.
Suarez trimmed the gap to just a single point with a pair of free throws to open the second half, but came away disheartened after despite excellent defense, Eidson beat the 24-second buzzer with a triple. Schortsanitis completed a three-point play to boost Maccabi’s edge to 6 before Llull was whistled for an off-the-ball offensive foul. The Maccabi crowed erupted as Pargo soared for a showtime dunk. Llull silenced the Tel Aviv faithful with a triple, but on its next possession Reyes knocked Pnini over and was called for an offensive foul. Another Pargo highlight – a spin move and teardrop off the glass – was answered by Prigioni with a three-pointer to make it 42-38. Suarez came through at the end of the 24-second clock with a big three from the top of the key to make it a 2-point game. Maccabi reacted in time as Blu scored a layup in transition and Eidson spun through the key and was fouled, allowing him to bump the advantage to 47-41 from the line. Hendrix positioned himself well for a tip-in as Maccabi climbed back to an 8-point lead. Llull got 2 back for Madrid, but after getting to the line and making a free throw, Eidson stole the inbounds pass, laid the ball in and drew a foul for a quick 5 points that put the Israeli giants ahead by double figures for the first time. Tomic converted two free throws and then took a pass from Sergio Rodriguez for 2 more, but Pargo had the last word with a penetration and layup to put Maccabi up 55-47 heading into the deciding quarter.
Maccabi looked to put the game away as Blu hit a jumper and Eidson sank a three on the fourth shot of a lengthy possession to give the team its biggest lead to that point. Tomic countered quickly, but Pargo nailed a triple and after Tomic limped off with an apparent leg injury, Blu practically iced the game with a triple to complete a 13-2 run that started at the end of the previous quarter. Llull hoped to ignite something with a steal and layup, but an Eidson three started the Maccabi fans in song. Pargo later fed Big Sofo inside to take the lead to 20. With the outcome already clear, Maccabi captain Derrick Sharp, the oldest player at this year’s Final Four at age 39, came on and helped Maccabi ice the game with a triple to make it 82-60 and seal an impressive win on the way to what promises to be an exciting final.
Friday, May 6, 2011