2003-04Final FourFinal
May 01, 2004 CET: 20:40
Local time: 21:40 NOKIA ARENA

Team Stats

Ave.   Ave.
85.0 Points 85.4
32.8 Rebounds 31.8
8.0 O. Rebounds 10.3
24.8 D. Rebounds 21.5
16.2 Assists 13.4
10.5 Steals 12.8
2.9 Blocks 2.4
12.3 Turnovers 13.0
57.4 % 2PT 53.5 %
39.2 % 3PT 37.6 %
79.6 % FT 78.1 %
100.9 Index 91.2

Player Stats

Ave.   Ave.
17.2 / Vujcic Points 16.1 / Vujanic
8.2 / Baston Rebounds 6.1 / Delfino
2.2 / Baston OR 2.2 / V.d. Spiegel
6.1 / Baston DR 4.4 / Delfino
4.8 / Jasikevicius Assists 4.6 / Pozzecco
1.3 / Baston Steals 1.7 / Delfino
1.4 / Baston Blocks 0.9 / V.d. Spiegel
2.5 / Jasikevicius Turnovers 2.1 / Pozzecco
69.7 % / Blu 2PT 62.1 % / Smodis
47.9 % / Parker 3PT 43.8 % / Pozzecco
92.3 % / Jasikevicius FT 89.4 % / Pozzecco
21.7 / Parker Index 14.3 / Delfino


Ave.   Ave.
0-0 Final Four 0-0
0-0 Top 16 0-0
0-0 Regular Season 0-0
16-5 Overall 14-7


Crew Chief

The Take

Everything is set for the biggest game of the season in European basketball, as Maccabi Tel Aviv and Skipper Bologna will face each other in the Euroleague Final at Nokia Arena at 20:40 CET on Saturday night. Maccabi will have the home court advantage, a crowd of 10,482 fully in its corner, as well as the support of a whole country waiting on every dribble and shot. Maccabi's ability to make all that expectation a boost and not a burden will be one of the big questions in the determination of a new Euroleague champion. Skipper is less affected by great expectations, and neither will it have any help from the crowd, though that may not matter. Skipper has proven it can win at Nokia Arena, having beaten Maccabi there 89-99 on January 29 with an impressive barrage of 15 three-pointers. It must be remembered, however, that Maccabi proved it can out-gun Skipper, as it did in Bologna in November, winning a 104-111 overtime thriller. Despite the high stakes of playing with the Euroleague trophy at courtside, waiting to be lifted by only one team, a fast-paced game can be expected by two teams who can really fill up the baskets. High scoring has rarely been the rule in a continental title game, but with two teams whose offenses know no boundaries, the 2004 Euroleague Final should be one for the history books.

Maccabi's major concern will be preventing Skipper from playing its usual open court game and running the break. In its semifinal win over CSKA, Maccabi used great defense featuring an aggressive matchup zone that Skipper can expect to face in the final. Skipper managed to play the semifinal against Montepaschi Siena at the pace that suited it best. Head coach Jasmin Repesa won a tactical battle due to his versatile roster, which allowed Skipper at one point to play without a single center or power forward. Skipper's regular lineup boasts a superstar in the making, Carlos Delfino, author of 27 points in the semifinal victory over Montepaschi. Delfino played 41 minutes in that game, but was strong enough at the end to hit a big three-pointer and sink the winning free throw in overtime. Skipper played small in the semifinal because center Tomas Van den Spiegel was slowed by injury and scorer Hanno Mottola by fouls. Youngster Erazem Lorbek was actually the surprise starter, alongside Skipper's most consistent frontcourt force, Matjaz Smodis, who had 14 points in the semifinal and will be remembered in Tel Aviv as the author of 5 three-pointers back in January.

What makes Skipper's frontcourt difficult to defend is that Smodis and Mottola can rain shots from downtown and draw big defenders away from the basket. In the case of Maccabi, the big men are more traditional, and highly effective closer to the basket. Multi-talented power forward Nikola Vujcic is equally dangerous as a scorer or a passer working with Maceo Baston, who usually slams those passes. Both are key to a flexible offense that is one of the keys to coach Pini Gershon's success. Maccabi has additional frontcourt depth in David Bluthental, who didn't miss a shot while scoring 9 points in the win over CSKA, and veteran banger Deon Thomas. Both step on court and help Maccabi sustain a highly-competitive level near the basket.

Skipper knows that its win must include strong interior defense, which also means the visitors must prevent Maccabi floor general Sarunas Jasikevicius from distributing the ball to his liking. In Maccabi's regular season home loss, Jasikevicius suffered 6 turnovers, but in the semifinal against CSKA's renowned defense, he gave up just one while scoring 18 points and dishing 6 assists. Two of those were spectacular alley-oop passes to Anthony Parker, who kept Maccabi in the game early against CSKA, and then blasted off in the third quarter, finishing with a game-high 27 points. Both are proven players in big games and their experience will be counted on by Maccabi and its fans. Maccabi's backcourt is more than those two. Another clutch veteran, Derrick Sharp, saved Maccabi's season in the Top 16. Meanwhile, both Tal Burstein, with a huge triple down the stretch, and young sensation Yotam Halperin helped beat CSKA.

If Skipper's backcourt is somewhat less experienced in major games, it certainly doesn't lack for super talent. Milos Vujanic burned Maccabi for 6 three-pointers at Nokia Arena in January, and he has plenty of help. Oppenents know that starter Gianluca Basile can not only explode in any given game, but save his best for the finish. Gianmarco Pozzecco played great all-around minutes off the bench against Montepaschi and will have the chance to challenge Jasikevicius similarly in the final. A.J. Guyton joined Pozzecco with great production off the bench in the semifinals, meaning that Maccabi should be cautious to underestimate any of them. The top stars of the semis, Parker and Delfino, will be face off in a classic matchup that, whether or not it influences the game, is sure to give off sparks. Who among them makes those sparks set of fireworks will help decide whether Skipper Bologna or Maccabi Tel Aviv will be known forever after as the 2003-04 Euroleague champion.
Friday, April 30, 2004

Quotes Head Coaches


It's time to paint the basketballs yellow instead of orange! The Euroleague has a new champion tonight after Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Skipper Bologna 118-74 in a record-breaking show never before seen in European basketball. Maccabi won with the most points by the biggest difference ever, going back almost 50 years since the start of European pro basketball. Maccabi's spectacular blowout punctuated a season that has lifted European basketball to new and greater heights. Before one of the most euphoric crowds in basketball history, Maccabi made a dream of the entire country of Israel come true without any bit of suspense. From the opening tap, Maccabi ruled its home floor at Nokia Arena, soaring to a 25-point halftime lead and never looking back. It marked the fourth time that Maccabi has lifted a cup as a continental champion. Though it had a home crowd of 10,458 was fully behind it, Maccabi took nothing for granted. Its 55 first-half points was a record in the Final Four era, and it's defense was just as impressive. By the middle of the third quarter, it was showtime, as the Final MVP, Anthony Parker, rocked the rim with reverse dunks and Sarunas Jasikevicius dropped triples. The party had long since begun in the stands, and the celebration will not stop anytime soon. Maccabi is champion of Europe, and there was no doubt about it!

It was a night of major numbers for Maccabi, who broke 10 separate records in the modern Final Four era. The protagonists were many. Parker was almost flawless, finishing with 21 points and missing only 2 shots from the field. David Bluthenthal came off the bench and boosted Maccabi with 20 points in just 16 minutes, including 4 three-pointers. Jasikevicius also hit 4 from downtown, while scoring 18 points in just 17 minutes. Tal Burstein had the game's only double-double, 17 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes, more playing time than anyone. Maccabi made an incredible 71% of its two-point shots (28 for 38) and 61% of its threes (14 for 23). Skipper could not keep up from the start, but had a good game out of Milos Vujanic, with 21 points. Gianluca Basile and Gianmarco Pozzecco added 10 points each for Skipper, which was playing in its first-ever final.

For the record, Matjaz Smodis opened the scoring with a layup on Skipper's first possession. But that was the last time Skipper would lead. Maccabi took its first lead with a triple by Sarunas Jasikevicius that brought down the house. Anthony Parker then blocked a fastbreak layup by Milos Vujanic, and at the other end, Jasikevicius drilled his second triple. Parker then made a three-point play, forcing Skipper coach Jasmin Repesa to called time ut after 3 minutes with the score 9-2. With the noise at deafening levels, Skipper went scoreless for nearly 4 minutes until Delfino knocked down 2 free throws. With Skipper already in the bonus, Jasikevicius knocked down two free throws and Maccabi's lead surged to 13-4 after a Parker breakaway layup. Skipper switched to a small lineup with Stefano Mancinelli at the power forward spot, but they still couldn't find success, missing 6 field goals in a row while committing 3 turnovers. Maccabi couldn't have played better, as Vujcic followed Bluthental's turnaround jumper with 2 more foul shots for a 19-5 lead. Basile stepped up for Skipper with a three-pionter, Skipper's first field goal since the first possession of the game. Yotam Halperin and Tal Burstein combined 4 points in the final 2 minutes, then a seven-meter three off an inbound pass by Bluthenthal gave Maccabi a 31-13 lead after 10 minutes.

Maccabi pushed its lead to 20 points on a long two-pointer by Vujcic on the first possession of the second quarter, but Skipper responded with a 2-8 run with baskets from Delfino, Vujanic and Mottola that made the score 35-21. That's as close as Skipper was going to get. Skipper's momentum was quickly halted by Bluthenthal, who scored 6 points on a 8-2 run. Skipper ran into trouble when Smodis picked up his third foul and would sit for the rest of the quarter. Gianluca Basile dropped in a jump shot, but Maccabi scored the next 4 points and Skipper still couldn't find its rhythm. Parker added salt to Skipper's wounds when he beat the shot clock with a five-meter jumper with less than five minutes to play in the half. On the next play Bluthenthan pushed Maccabi's edge back to 20 points, 43-23. Skipper couldn't find answers on offense without a low-post presence and its triples continued to miss. Skipper made only 2 of 11 from long range in the first half. Now, Skipper couldn't stop Maccabi from getting shots near the basket, as the lead hit 51-27 after a Gur Shelef lay-in with just over a minute remaining in the half. Gianmarco Pozzecco knocked down a three-pointer, but Maccabi grabbed its biggest lead, 55-30, after scoring the final 5 points. Maccabi set a new record of most points scored in the first half of a Euroleague final, as Philips Milano (1988) and Kinder Bologna (2001) shared the previous record at 52.

Maccabi opened the second half with a powerful basket by Baston, who blocked Mottola's shot in the other end. The Israeli champs carried on playing at full intensity in both sides of the floor and their biggest lead of the game at that point, 28 points, on a Burstein free throw one minute into the quarter. Vujanic made his first triple of the game, but Jasikevicius cancelled it with a three that boosted Maccabi's lead to 64-38. Parker followed with a highlight-worthy two-handed reverse slam plus foul over Delfino, sending the crowd into ecstacy. Skipper did not give up, however, and fired back with a 0-10 run in which Vujanic had 5 points and Mottola nailed a three-pointer which brought the Italians within 64-45. Jasikevicius cut off the Skipper rally with a pull-up jumper and Baston punctuated Maccabi's play with a reverse dunk that gave Maccabi a 71-48 lead. Vujanic scored his 20th point with a floating layup, but Parker answered with 5 points in a row to give Maccabi a 80-51 lead at the end of the third quarter.

The tide was coming in, against Skipper's favor, and Maccabi did not let up. The hosts' margin was pushed to 106-65 on another Bluthenthal shot and there was not hope for Skipper. Basile made a three, Jasikevicius matched that on the other end, as Maccabi's shooting clinic had begun. Jasikevicius, Burstein and Shelef powered the team, and Bluthental drilled his fourth three-pointer to extend its lead to 95-57 as Maccabi set a new record for most points in a final. There were tears if joy in the stands, while the whole country got ready for a long, long night of celebration. Maccabi Tel Aviv, the team that represents Israel best all around the world, more than a team to most of its citizens, has succeeded in his biggest goal of the season: become the new Euroleague champion on its own court at Nokia Arena!

Maccabi Champion 2004 - Maccabi Tel Aviv
Saturday, May 1, 2004
Attendance: 10000
By Quarter1234
Maccabi Elite31242538
Skipper Bologna13172123
End of Quarter1234
Maccabi Elite315580118
Skipper Bologna13305174
Maccabi Elite
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 BEN CHIMOL, AVRAHAM 4:00 2 1/1 0/1         1             2
5 BASTON, MACEO 16:15 9 4/5   1/2 4 2 6 1 1 2 2   2 4 17
6 SHARP, DERRICK 12:15 9   3/4     1 1 3 1 1     3   9
7 VUJCIC, NIKOLA 24:30 9 2/5   5/6   1 1     2 3   3 3 7
8 PARKER, ANTHONY 29:00 21 5/7 1/1 8/8   4 4 3 2   1   1 6 34
9 SHELEF, GUR 15:30 2 1/1     1 3 4 7     1   2   12
10 BURSTEIN, TAL 36:00 17 5/7 1/3 4/6   10 10 6 1       4 4 28
11 HALPERIN, YOTAM 20:45 7 2/3 1/3     2 2 4 3 1     1 1 12
13 JASIKEVICIUS, SARUNAS 17:45 18 2/2 4/6 2/2   2 2 5   2     3 5 23
14 SUNDOV, BRUNO 6:30 4 2/2                     1   3
15 THOMAS, DEON 0:45                   1     2   -3
33 BLU, DAVID 16:45 20 4/5 4/5   1 2 3 1   2     3   17
Team           1 1 2   4           6
Totals 200:00 118 28/38 14/23 20/24 7 28 35 31 12 11 7 0 25 23 167
        73.7% 60.9% 83.3%
Head coach: GERSHON, PINI
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Skipper Bologna
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 MOTTOLA, HANNO 19:45 7 2/6 1/2     3 3 1   1   3 4 2  
5 BASILE, GIANLUCA 35:15 10 1/1 2/6 2/4 1 1 2   1 3     4 4 4
6 MANCINELLI, STEFANO 16:45 3 1/2 0/1 1/2 2 1 3 1   1     2 1 2
7 BELINELLI, MARCO 14:15 3 0/2 1/3                 1     -2
8 SMODIS, MATJAZ 14:15 2 1/2 0/1         1 1 1     3 1 -1
12 POZZECCO, GIANMARCO 18:00 10 1/2 1/3 5/7       3   4     3 3 4
13 VUJANIC, MILOS 21:15 21 5/8 2/3 5/6   3 3 1       1 2 6 23
14 VAN DEN SPIEGEL, TOMAS 8:30 3 1/2   1/2   1 1         1 2 1  
15 LORBEK, ERAZEM 13:30 7 3/3   1/1 1 1 2             1 10
18 GUYTON, ARTHUR JAMES 10:15   0/1 0/1   1   1               -1
19 PRATO, PATRICIO 0:45 2 1/1                         2
20 DELFINO, CARLOS 27:30 6 2/6 0/4 2/2 2 2 4 1 1 2   1 3 5 3
Team           3   3   8         1 12
Totals 200:00 74 18/36 7/24 17/24 10 12 22 8 11 12 0 7 23 25 56
        50% 29.2% 70.8%
Head coach: REPESA, JASMIN
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