2007-08Final FourSemifinal
May 02, 2008 CET: 18:00
Local time: 18:00 PAB. DEP. COMUNIDAD DE MADRID

Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv completed one of the greatest comebacks in Final Four history to defeat Montepaschi Siena 85-92 and advance to the Euroleague Basketball title game for the fourth time in five seasons on Friday at the Community of Madrid Sports Palace in the Spanish Capital. Maccabi trailed by as many as 18 in the second period, but stormed back with a 0-13 charge bridging the third and fourth periods to take the lead. Spirited play from Alex Garcia and team captain Derrick Sharp, who both scored season-highs off the bench, led an effort of 70 bench points. Montepaschi had only 25 points from its bench. Maccabi will face the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between CSKA Moscow and Tau Ceramica in Sunday’s final. The Israeli champs defeated Tau in the 2005 final and lost to CSKA in the 2006 final. Garcia paced Maccabi with 19 points, Sharp scored 17, Will Bynum finished with 13 points and 7 assists, Terence Morris had 13 points and 7 rebounds and David Bluthenthal added 11, including the go-ahead three-pointer early in the fourth quarter. Terrell McIntyre had a game-high 26 points and 5 assists in defeat. Romain Sato posted 17 points and 11 boards for Montepaschi, Ksistof Lavrinovic also scored 17 and Bootsy Thornton 10.

Montepaschi won the opening tip and got on the board first when Ben Eze corrected a Sato miss. The Montepaschi defense stifled Maccabi, forcing the Israeli champs into tough shots. At the other end, McIntyre stepped up, drilling a pair of three-pointers on back-to-back possession to make it 8-0. Morris finally got Maccabi on the scoreboard with a finger roll after three-and-a-quarter minutes of action. Maccabi’s defense firmed up and kept Montepaschi scoreless for several minutes, but the yellow-and-blue had a tough time scoring at the other end. Even when Bynum penetrated for a Maccabi basket, Thornton punished him seconds later with a score in transition. Then Thornton fed an open Shaun Stonerook for a triple that put Montepaschi up 13-4. A Lavrinovic free throw extended the lead to double digits and McIntyre soon made it 18-6 from the line. The Italian champs had an answer for every Maccabi basket and after Morris scored, Sato made it 20-8 after 10 minutes.

Lior Eliyahu came off the bench and showed some spirit with a slam, but Maccabi head coach was soon slapped with a technical foul and McIntyre scored free throws and soon added a triple that pushed his team’s advantage to 15. Eliyahu was having an impact, especially when Montepaschi tired Sato at power forward, but Maccabi couldn’t Lavrinovic at the other end either. And when Hector Romero stepped in and Sato slid back to small forward, he made some noise with an offensive board and basket that made it 31-14. Vlado Ilievski drilled a three as the lead hit 18. Eliyahu seemed to be Maccabi’s only effective weapon cutting the gap to 36-22. Sharp came in and fired in a triple and then Morris buried another as the lead closed to 10. Ilievski answered with a long jumper, but Yotam Halperin continued the Maccabi momentum and made it 40-31. McIntyre would have none of that though and his fourth three-pointer of the half silenced the Maccabi fans. Morris would have one more try for Maccabi, but Lavrinovic made it 45-33 by halftime.

Garcia zipped through the Montepaschi defense to open the second half as Maccabi went with a rarely seen lineup that included only two starters. McIntyre – with a dish to Thornton and then his fifth three – put Siena up by 15. Morris tried to will Maccabi back, but it was to no avail as the Montepaschi backcourt was in total control. A Sharp three brought the Maccabi fans back to life, however a Sato triple ignited the Montepaschi following. Another bomb from Sharp – his second in 60 seconds – made it 57-49 and caused the Montepaschi bench to react with an urgent timeout. The timeout seemed to break Maccabi’s momentum, but Montepaschi had trouble scoring as well. A Bluthenthal triple got Maccabi within 6 with a minute-and-a-half to go in the period. Sato got Montepaschi back to 10 from the line, but Vujcic scored his first basket of the night and then a technical foul on Lavrinovic for flopping, led to 2 Sharp free throws and a Garcia triple as Maccabi stormed back to make it 64-61 after three periods.

Maccabi looked even more fired up as the fourth period began and Bluthenthal tied the score for the first time from downtown. Then Bynum pulled up for a three that capped a 0-13 charge and gave Maccabi its first lead of the night, 64-67. Lavrinovic ended a five-minute scoring drought for Montepaschi, but another Bluthenthal three kept Maccabi rolling. Lavrinovic again fought his way to a basket that made it 68-70 only to see Halperin hit a clutch three. Montepaschi quickly found its way and threes from McIntyre and Thornton cut the gap to 1. Sato missed inside and Garcia punished him with a triple that put Maccabi up 74-78. Lavrinovic beat the shot clock and on the next possession sank 2 free throws to tie the score as the two-minute mark approached and the drama built. An acrobatic basket-plus-foul from Bynum and an alley-oop to Morris put Maccabi up 5, while on the other end, Montepaschi struggled to find or make the shots it so calmly sank in the first half. Garcia gave Maccabi it’s biggest lead, 78-85, from the line and after another miss and Lavrinovic’s fifth foul, Garcia stretched it to 9 with a minute to go. McIntyre answered with 2 free throws, but Bynum did the same as Maccabi iced the game from the line to the delight of its strong traveling contingent of fans.

Maccabi celebrates - Maccabi Elite - Semifinal Montepaschi vs. Maccabi - Final Four 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
Frankie Sachs, Madrid
Referees: JUNGEBRAND, CARL (FIN), HIERREZUELO, DANIEL (ESP), DOZAI, SRDAN (CRO)
Attendance: 13480
By Quarter1234
Montepaschi Siena20251921
Maccabi Elite8252831
End of Quarter1234
Montepaschi Siena20456485
Maccabi Elite8336192
Montepaschi Siena
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 BERTI, SIMONE DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5 MCINTYRE, TERRELL 29:36 26 1/1 6/14 6/6 2 2 4 5 1 1     3 6 30
6 ILIEVSKI, VLADO 15:53 5 1/4 1/4     1 1 1       1   1 1
8 EZE, BENJAMIN 11:14 2 1/2     1 1 2   1 2   1 3   -2
9 CARRARETTO, MARCO 6:47     0/2     1 1               -1
10 SATO, ROMAIN 37:36 17 2/7 1/4 10/10 4 7 11   3     1 3 7 26
11 THORNTON, BOOTSY 32:48 10 3/4 1/7 1/2 1   1 2         3 3 5
12 LAVRINOVIC, KSISTOF 24:50 17 7/11 0/4 3/4 1 1 2   1 3   1 5 5 7
14 RESS, TOMAS DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
16 DIENER, DRAKE 10:11 3   1/6   2 1 3 1 1       4 1  
19 ROMERO, HECTOR 2:53   0/1                         -1
20 STONEROOK, SHAUN 28:12 5 1/2 1/4   1 5 6 1 3 1 1   4 2 9
Team           3 2 5               5
Totals 200:00 85 16/32 11/45 20/22 15 21 36 10 10 7 1 4 25 25 79
        50% 24.4% 90.9%
Head coach: PIANIGIANI, SIMONE
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
Maccabi Elite
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 BYNUM, WILL 21:58 13 3/7 1/3 4/5 1 3 4 7   1     3 4 17
6 SHARP, DERRICK 23:42 17 1/1 3/4 6/6 1 1 2     1     3 2 16
7 VUJCIC, NIKOLA 14:38 2 1/6   0/1 3 1 4 1 1 3   1 4 4 -2
8 ELIYAHU, LIOR 16:42 8 4/5       6 6 2     1   2 1 15
9 MORRIS, TERENCE 25:23 13 5/7 1/2   1 6 7 1 2 2     1 2 19
10 BURSTEIN, TAL 5:49     0/1               1   1   -1
11 CASSPI, OMRI 4:29   0/1                         -1
12 GARCIA, ALEX 26:42 19 2/3 2/4 9/10   3 3 1   2     4 7 20
13 BLU, DAVID 25:52 11 1/3 3/5   1 3 4 1   2 2   4 2 10
14 CUMMINGS, VONTEEGO 4:29     0/1                   1   -2
15 BATISTA, ESTEBAN 5:34 2 1/3   0/2           1     1 2 -2
21 HALPERIN, YOTAM 24:42 7 2/2 1/2   1 1 2 4 1 2     1   10
Team           4 4 8     1     1   6
Totals 200:00 92 20/38 11/22 19/24 12 28 40 17 4 15 4 1 26 24 105
        52.6% 50% 79.2%
Head coach: SHERF, ZVI

Head Coaches

PIANIGIANI, SIMONE
Montepaschi Siena
“First of all, congratulations to Maccabi that they will play in another final. We did a lot of things we wanted to when we approached this game. We played like we decided to before the game. We controlled the game until halftime. Maybe it was not enough points at halftime. But if you have open shots, you have to make them. And in the third we missed our shots and then we struggled getting rebounds. It was not a bad effort for us. We just missed too many open shots.

“Stonebrook was in foul trouble early and Maccabi played with a smaller quicker team. And then we lost our guys after some rotations and a guy like Sharp will just hit those shots after he won so many Euroleague games in the past. We knew that to win we had to dictate the rhythm of the game until the end. But it is very hard to take points away from Maccabi in the transition. And we lost the rhythm of the game. After Kaukenas's injury we needed to move the ball and pass the ball better on the perimeter.

“But I have nothing bad to say to my players. They fought to the end. We played face to face with them and it was a great game for everybody. I'm a little sad because I would have liked to have been in the final. But I am just proud that we are here and played a game like this. We tried to arrive in the final. Siena is a club with a big project. We are not just a one-time thing. Obviously, we need something more. Maybe when we win a title, then we will have a guy like Sharp who can win a game for us. It was important that we showed everybody that we have arrived here and that we belong here.”
SHERF, ZVI
Maccabi Elite
"We played a very good second quarter after we had done the opposite in the first quarter, when we came out with heavy legs like we had 20,000 tons on our shoulders. When I came into the locker room at halftime, I saw people sitting with their heads down. I said, 'Guys, it's 12 points. That's nothing. We have to believe we can win.' After halftime, we fixed the defense, started showing more aggressiveness, and started shooting better, which we hadn't been doing at all in the first half. Then, the first time we took the lead, I saw the body language of Siena, which until then had been very confident, go down. We had the help of the big heart of Alex Garcia. He has a heart that goes from here to Tel Aviv to Brazil."

“From the day that we qualified for the semifinals, we started to learn and scout everything that Siena can do. But the truth is that they are a very, very good team and a very organized team. They can do a lot of things very good. So we tried the last two weeks to break down their system. We came into the game and felt a little bit of the pressure that goes along with being Maccabi. In the second half, we improved our offensive game. I came into the locker room and the players were a little sad. But I told them that we have to do the things we did not do in the first half. They had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half and just two in the second half. We had 10 turnovers in the first half and did a lot better in the second half with handling the ball. We struggled with Stonebrook and Lavrinovic and we didn't stop McIntyre in the first half. But guys like Sharp and Garcia brought us a lot of heart. And we tried to penetrate when they were slow switching and we were able to stretch the defense. The fans gave us a lot of backing and helped us to the win.

“Now we have to be quiet and rest. Every coach, even if it was not me, would like to win the final. Whoever reaches the final, it will be a big fight. We have 12 players on the team. We didn't start the game well, so I was looking for the five guys on the floor who could help us win. And even guys without big game experience here helped a lot – like Bynum and Garcia. Siena is a very, very organized team, playing in a very good system. We prepared ourselves to stop the system. In the third quarter we stopped all their set offenses. We forced them to take bad shots. And at halftime, I told the players that with 22 three-point shots for Siena we have to make more fast breaks. And we did that in the second half.”

Players

STONEROOK, SHAUN
Montepaschi Siena
”I got my fourth foul and our defense changed from that moment. It is hard to come back and play with four fouls, but the most important thing is that we missed a lot of shots. We took 45 three-pointers in this game, which is unbelievable. We allowed too many open shots in the second half. We didn't get it straight in the second half. When you have four fouls, you don't want to do a stupid reaching one. They did a good job, made us rotate and had very good shooters on the court. They made the big shots when it counted and when we were down by 1, we missed a layup to take back the lead. We had a couple of unfortunate plays, they started to run the floor, moved around and hit the three-pointers. They played better than us in the second half.”
MCINTYRE, TERRELL
Montepaschi Siena
”We thought we could hold off their comeback, but when Shaun Stonerook got into foul trouble, everything changed. I wouldn't say we lost because of the lack the experience, but without Stonerook, we were a different team. We didn't make shots, and when this happens, we have to stay confident. This is what Maccabi showed, it was confident throughout the entire game. When they cut our lead to 3 points, you could see that our body language wasn't the same as in the beginning of the game. Maccabi is full of experienced guys and managed to stay confident all the way. Our intensity got down in the second half. We managed to get an 18-point lead and kind of relaxed at that point. Against a team that has the best offense in the Euroleague, you can't do that. You start looking at the scoreboard and that is not good."
DIENER, DRAKE
Montepaschi Siena
“We didn't do what we had to do in the second half, which is playing defense. They scored almost 60 points in the second half, which means our defense was not good. They did not allow us to get fast-break points. We didn't shoot well tonight. We missed pretty open three-pointers and things like that. It was a tight game and everybody in the team thinks that they could have done better on a couple of plays. We were up 18 points and we knew they were a pretty good offensive team. They showed it in the second half.”
THORNTON, BOOTSY
Montepaschi Siena
“It is a shame. We are not particularly happy with this loss. We are totally upset and thought we were a better team. We played well in the second half, rebounding very well on the offensive end. We fell apart in the second half and Maccabi made good shots. They made the shots and we missed in the other end. We cannot allow any team to score 60 points in the second half and pretend to win a Final Four game. Alex Garcia played very well, made the right shots and really stepped up. He came in and changed the game. Of course, Derrick Sharp is Derrick Sharp and has done what he did tonight in many Final Fours. He even made shots off loose balls. That is the kind of player he is.”
GARCIA, ALEX
Maccabi Elite
“I can't explain, but I just prepared myself before the game to be ready. I was anxious last night. I didn't sleep because I was thinking so much about the game. After we got behind, we said we had to trust each other, believe and trust each other. We won on the defensive end. We talked at halftime about it because we didn't play defense in the first half. We became more aggressive after halftime and that won the game.”
VUJCIC, NIKOLA
Maccabi Elite
"When I heard the fans call my name it was an unbelievable feeling. It's a great pleasure to make it the finals again. Derrick Sharp and David Bluthenthal were amazing, so was Alex Garcia. Everybody was contributing. We're winners and that's what won this game for us. I guess Montepaschi didn't see enough clips of Sharp if they left him alone so many times. Whoever we'll play against us it will be a great finals."
SHARP, DERRICK
Maccabi Elite
"I don't remember when I scored so many points, but it's a great feeing. I tried to keep my body ready and in shape for this event. The key is to keep believing in yourself. Sometimes you just can't control what's going on. That's destiny, and I guess our destiny is to win. We were under pressure in the first half, but after we calmed down it was our game. Now we're just one more game away from the title again."
BLU, DAVID
Maccabi Elite
”The game could have gone either way but we believed in ourselves. We play better with our backs against the wall and our backs are still against the wall. Defense made the difference, and believing in ourselves and playing as a team. We always believe in ourselves. But they jumped out on us and we didn't have a great first half. But we responded well. This is the last couple of games, so nobody needs to save anything.”
BYNUM, WILL
Maccabi Elite
“It feels good, but it's only the half of it. We have another game on Sunday. So I can't tell you how I truly feel until after Sunday. We just had to be more aggressive. In the first half we were just kind of watching. We were just kind of watching because we were in the Final Four. It was the first time for a lot of us. So we were kind of passive. But in the second half coach got on us and motivated us a lot harder to give it all we got. That's the type of team they are. They take a lot of threes. We knew that if they could take contested jump shots they wouldn't hit them all game. And it proved in the second half. In the first half they also had 10 offensive rebounds, so they were getting second chance points and that was kind of hurting us. And in the second half we did a better job with the defensive rebounds and were able to get out on the transition and make them pay for it.”