Final Four Round 1 - May 03, 2002 CET: 18:00 Local time: 18:00 - PALAMALAGUTI
FINAL FOUR, ROUND 1

Records

Ave.   Ave.
0-0 Final Four 0-0
0-0 Top 16 0-0
0-0 Regular Season 0-0
17-3 Overall 14-6

Referees

Crew Chief
BRAZAUSKAS, ROMUALDAS, Lithuania
Referee
ARTEAGA, JUAN CARLOS, Spain
Umpire
LAMONICA, LUIGI, Italy

Team Stats

Ave.   Ave.
83.5 Points 75.5
27.8 Rebounds 30.4
6.9 O. Rebounds 7.9
20.9 D. Rebounds 22.5
10.9 Assists 12.3
8.3 Steals 10.3
1.2 Blocks 1.7
14.1 Turnovers 10.9
58.9 % 2PT 52.8 %
35.8 % 3PT 35.6 %
73.8 % FT 74.9 %
82.4 Index 80.6

Player Stats

Ave.   Ave.
19.7 / BODIROGA, DEJAN Points 16.7 / PARKER, ANTHONY
4.9 / BODIROGA, DEJAN Rebounds 7.3 / HUFFMAN, NATE
1.4 / MIDDLETON, DARRYL OR 2.0 / HUFFMAN, NATE
4.0 / BODIROGA, DEJAN DR 5.3 / HUFFMAN, NATE
2.4 / SANCHEZ, PEPE Assists 3.9 / MCDONALD, ARRIEL
1.9 / SANCHEZ, PEPE Steals 1.8 / MCDONALD, ARRIEL
0.5 / PAPADOPOULOS, LAZAROS Blocks 0.5 / HUFFMAN, NATE
2.0 / BODIROGA, DEJAN Turnovers 1.8 / HUFFMAN, NATE
82.5 % / GIANNOULIS, YANNIS 2PT 57.9 % / SAFFAR, YOAV
47.8 % / MULAOMEROVIC, DAMIR 3PT 100.0 % / BESOK, HUSEYIN
82.1 % / ROGERS, JOHNNY FT 95.2 % / SHARP, DERRICK
22.5 / BODIROGA, DEJAN Index 18.2 / PARKER, ANTHONY

THE TAKE

Even though it is sometimes wise to throw out statistical analysis for emotion-driven games like those of the Final Four, the expectation of a defensive struggle between Panathinaikos and Maccabi Tel Aviv in Friday's first semifinal is legitimate, even welcome. If these two rivals, in their third Final Four matchup in as many years, tried to outgun each other, fans might not recognize them. Theirs were two of the best three defenses in the Top 16, with Maccabi allowing opponents just 74 points per game and Panathinaikos 77.8. Together, they scored over 90 points in only 10 games all season, but less than 80 almost doubly often, 19 times. Points will not come easy for either team.

In a defensive showdown, each basket seems to count double, and any easy points can come back to haunt the team that allows them. Free throws also play a crucial role. Individual scorers can decide games even moreso than usual. Most scorers will be stopped, as part of the definition of a defensive-oriented game, so those who refuse to be stopped will become protagonists as surely as the collective defenses they are trying to solve. In this game, those parameters point to two players, Dejan Bodiroga of Panathinaikos and Arriel McDonald of Maccabi, as their team's key men.

Bodiroga is rarely, if ever, shut down. His teammates feed off his willingness to bear responsibility for the ball and the result. He shuttles between three positions - and is expected to play some power forward on Friday - making him a challenge to practically the whole defense. If someone does happen to slow him, he can move up or down a position to creat new mismatches. Bodirgoa's stats by themselves didn't make him the Top 16 MVP. His mastery of so many big games and their big moments did. The entire semifinal on Friday will be a big moment.

McDonald, who controls the ball for his team, will be just as visible. The idea will be to get that ball inside, where Maccabi has a size advantage with Nate Huffman and Huseyin Besok. The reality will likely be less simplified, especially with Zeljko Obradovic on the Panathinaikos bench. How the ball goes inside and outside, moving the Greens' defense over the course of long possessions, will dictate most of Maccabi's success. So will McDonald's open-court decisions, because Maccabi's supposed rebounding advantage will only matter if it manifests itself in fastbreaks. Maccabi may or may not pull more offensive boards (it ranked last in the Top 16, Panathinaikos next to last), but even then neither team lights up the world with their free throws.

If all baskets seem to count double, three-pointers will be like blessings to those who make them, crushing blows to the defense who gives them up. Note that right now, Derrick Sharp of Maccabi is the hottest shooter in Europe, having made 10 of 16 attempts in the Top 16, leading Maccabi to the top three-point accuracy, making almost half (46%) its long throws in that round. Panathinaikos was dead last in that category, making only 30.2%. The Greens' major acquisitions since last season, Ibrahim Kutluay and Damir Mulaomerovic, will be expected to contribute from beyond the 6.25 arc, but should be ready also to challenge the basket if their shots aren't falling. If only Bodiroga makes the Maccabi big men move to help, that could be too little diversification for the Greens.

Maccabi can expect Anthony Parker to threaten the Panathinaikos defense wherever he finds it vulnerable, inside, outside or somewhere in between. That gives his team a balance of attack that Panathinaikos may lack, depending on how Darryl Middleton can use his quickness inside. The Greens will likely be more than happy if young center Lazaros Papadopoulos can simply hold his own against the Maccabi big men, doing nothing spectacular, but not letting them do so either.

Players on both teams are fond of saying that they know everything there is to know about the other. Could someone step up unexpectedly? Sure. That's how careers are defined, with big-game performances. To begin, it can be assumed that one of the standouts on each team can be expected to lead his team on Friday. But expect the winner to need two such performances out of its regular cast of stars. With everyone else on the floor expected to play good defense, two players standing out for their ability to put the ball in the basket may could be enough to tilt the balance and send their team to the final.
Thursday, May 2, 2002
Euroleague.net

Quotes Head Coaches

OBRADOVIC, ZELJKO
Panathinaikos
"Of course, we are very happy to be in this Final Four, with the best teams in Europe. It's very interesting, because I don't think there is a favorite team, except perhaps Kinder, because it is playing at home. We are playing a team we know very well in the semifinal. We've played them the last two year. Everything can happen in a do-or-die game. We have had many problems, but I think we are now well-prepared to win again."
BLATT, DAVID
Maccabi Elite
"We at Maccabi Tel Aviv are honored and happy to be in city of Bologna for the Final Four. We have taken part in the last two years in both Final Fours, and I have had the opportunity to meet Coach Obradovic a few times. Obviously, we are looking forward to a great game on Friday. Our team at this time is in very good shape. We just won the Israeli Cup, an important part of our season. A few weeks ago we played a great match in Vitoria, an important match that got us to the Final Four. With my players, I am motivated to giving our best performance in what appears to be the best qualitative Final Four in years."

Players

BODIROGA, DEJAN
Panathinaikos
"I would like to say that we are very happy to be here. We had our problems during the season, but I think that the very best teams have reached this Final Four, the most consistent teams in the first and second phases. We are playing Maccabi, a very strong team in terms of what it can do. We know them well from playing against them the last two years at this point in the season, and we know it will be another great game with them."
HENEFELD, NADAV
Maccabi Elite
"We are very proud to be in the Final Four again. All we care about now is having fun and playing a good game on Friday against Panathinaikos. We played them the last couple years, so we know it will be tough. With all due respect to the other teams, two great Italian teams, all we have to do now is concern ourselves about Friday. This time will be a little difference for us. We have more experience and we want to show that in our ability to play well. And we should play well. I want to wish good luck to all the other players in their games, too."
Dejan Bodiroga - Panathinaikos - FF Bologna 2002 Basket City has turned a shade of green. Panathinaikos of Athens is going to play for the Euroleague title after downing its mighty rival, Maccabi Tel Aviv, in the first semifinal of the Final Four on Friday by 83-75 behind the fourth-quarter heroics of a certain Top 16 MVP named Dejan Bodiroga. The Greens will go for their third Euroleague crown on Sunday against the winner of the second semifinal, Benetton Treviso or defending champion Kinder Bologna. Bodiroga gave Panathinaikos control of a back-and-forth battle in the late third and early fourth quarter, scoring 12 consecutive points for the Greens to restore the moderate leads they had enjoyed earlier in the game. Bodiroga finished with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals, while the inside duo of Darryl Middleton and Lazaros Papadopoulos combined for 24 points to negate what was supposed to be Maccabi's superior inside game. The Greens had also put on a first-quarter three-point shooting display, 5 for 5 from behind the arc. Maccabi's top scorer was Tal Burstein with 16 points off the bench.

Not only was the Panathinaikos inside game the match or better of Maccabi's, but the Greens held down the biggest perimeter threats of Maccabi all game. Arriel McDonald and Anthony Parker were held to 11 points each, and the only other double-digit scorer for Maccabi was Nate Huffman with 16 points. Those five three-pointers by Panathinaikos in the first quarter proved more than Maccabi would make all night, as Derrick Sharp got slowed early with foul trouble. For the winners, Middleton came up with 15 inside points and 5 rebounds, Fragiskos Alvertis 11 points and Papadopoulos 9.

Arriel McDonald - Maccabi Tel Aviv - FF Bologna 2002A quick turnover by Huffman on a double-team led to an Alvertis three-pointer to open the game, while McDonald slashed for a layup to get Maccabi on the board. A tip-in by Middleton and post-up floater by Bodiroga put Panathinaikos ahead 7-2. Two quick fouls by Derrick Sharp on Mulaomerovic forced him to be replaced by Tal Burstein, who added four points from the line while Maccabi forced three Panathinaikos turnovers to get within 7-6. Besok, in for Huffman, got a pair of dunks to enliven Maccabi's offense, but they came between three fouls, the last of which was a Middleton three-point play that made it 14-12. McDonald then rose up for a three-pointer to give Maccabi its first lead 14-15. The Panathinaikos answer was quick and impressive. Alvertis three-pointer. Kutluay three-pointer plus foul shot. Kutluay three-pointer. Mulaomerovic three-pointer. Four possessions in a row, four huge shots for a 27-20 Panathinaikos lead. Burstein, who would lead all scorers with 10 points in the quarter, got to the hoop one more time to keep Maccabi close at 27-23 after 10 minutes. The 5-for-5 three-point shooting by the Greens had it looking like much less of a defensive struggle than expected.

Those defenses did appear early in the second quarter, putting a choke on any real scoring until the next Panathinaikos three-pointer, off the hands of Johnny Rogers. That started a 9-3 run for the Greens that gave them their second-biggest lead of the game, 36-30. But that's when Maccabi got into shooting mode itself. Anthony Parker, quiet until then, popped Maccabi's first three-pointer and followed it with the mid-range jumper that had been failing him until then. Derrick Sharp and Burstein rained their own threes to pull Maccabi back within 42-41. Parker then raised up for the last shot from behind the arc in the half. Like most of the others, it fell and the battle most people expected between these old warriors was locked in a 44-44 tie. Burstein was still leading all scorers with 14 points, while Alvertis was up to 11 for Panathinaikos.

Darryl Midletton - Panathinaikos - FF Bologna 2002Tied it was, and basically tied the score stayed through 8 minutes of the third quarter, with neither team leading for more than one possession, as bodies flew inside and outside the paint. Huffman got involved with two inside baskets for Maccabi. He and Gur Shelef combined for 9 of Maccabi's first 11 points of the quarter. Meanwhile, Middleton and Bodiroga shared all 12 of the Greens'. All it got either team was a two-point lead, at most, through 8 minutes, until Middleton's fourth basket of the quarter made it 60-56 and Bodiroga followed with a turnaround in the lane for a 62-55 Panathinaikos lead. McDonald, who was held almost shotless for long stretches, got a steal and fastbreak layup, but that only managed to bring Maccabi within 62-57 after 30 minutes.

The fourth quarter was Bodiroga time in terms of scoring. He began it with a three-pointer, then got to the hoop for two and finished a fastbreak on a turnover by Parker. The five-point lead they started the quarter with held at 69-64 five minutes later. Then the Top 16 MVP squared up from the top of the arc, and down went another three-pointer for a 72-65 Panathinaikos lead. When young Lazaros Papadopoulos finished another break for a three-point play, Maccabi looked in trouble, down 75-67 with barely 4 minutes to go. Hope came with back-to-back baskets by Parker and Burstein. Maccabi fouled Papadopoulos, who made two free throws, but Huffman could only make one of his at the other end. With 1 minute, 26 seconds to go, Damir Mulaomerovic emerged from his support role for a driving layup, was fouled and made the free throw. It was 80-72 with 1:26 to go, and Maccabi had been missing from outside all night. This would be a night painted green, not yellow.
Friday, May 3, 2002
Euroleague.net
Referees: BRAZAUSKAS, ROMUALDAS (LTU), ARTEAGA, JUAN CARLOS (ESP), LAMONICA, LUIGI (ITA)
Attendance: 8278
By Quarter1234
Panathinaikos27171821
Maccabi Elite23211318
End of Quarter1234
Panathinaikos27446283
Maccabi Elite23445775
Head coach: OBRADOVIC, ZELJKO
Panathinaikos
# Player Min Pts 2FG
M-A
3FG
M-A
FT
M-A
Rebounds As St To Bl Fouls PIR
O D T Fv Ag Cm Rv
4 ALVERTIS, FRAGISKOS 19:00 11 1/1 2/3 3/4   1 1   1 1     4 2 8
5 KALAITZIS, GEORGIOS 21:00 2 1/1 0/3     2 2 5 1       2   5
7 ROGERS, JOHNNY 9:00 5   1/1 2/2   2 2           4 1 4
8 MULAOMEROVIC, DAMIR 32:00 6 1/7 1/3 1/1 1 3 4 1 2 3     3 4 3
10 BODIROGA, DEJAN 39:00 26 6/11 2/2 8/11 1 8 9 1 2 1   2 4 11 34
11 MIDDLETON, DARRYL 23:00 15 7/8   1/2 2 3 5 2   3     2 3 18
12 KUTLUAY, IBRAHIM 22:00 9 0/3 2/4 3/5 1 2 3     2     4 5 4
14 PAPADOPOULOS, LAZAROS 16:00 9 2/2   5/5   1 1   1 1 1   3   8
16 SANCHEZ, PEPE 16:00   0/1       1 1 2         4   -2
Team                     1         -1
Totals 197:00 83 18/34 8/16 23/30 5 23 28 11 7 12 1 2 30 26 81
52.9% 50% 76.7%
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
Head coach: BLATT, DAVID
Maccabi Elite
# Player Min Pts 2FG
M-A
3FG
M-A
FT
M-A
Rebounds As St To Bl Fouls PIR
O D T Fv Ag Cm Rv
4 HENEFELD, NADAV 22:00   0/1   0/2 1 1 2 2 1 1 1   4 3 1
6 SHARP, DERRICK 17:00 3 0/1 1/2                   3   -2
7 HUFFMAN, NATHANIEL 27:00 16 7/10 0/1 2/6 3 7 10 2 3 3     4 4 20
8 PARKER, ANTHONY 36:00 11 3/8 1/5 2/4 1 3 4 2   2     3 4 5
9 SHELEF, GUR 19:00 8 2/3   4/6   3 3 1 1       4 5 11
10 BURSTEIN, TAL 29:00 18 4/6 1/2 7/9   2 2 5 1   1 1 2 5 24
11 HALPERIN, YOTAM DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
13 CURCIC, RADISLAV 6:00 3 0/1   3/4 1 1 2           2 2 3
14 MCDONALD, ARRIEL 36:00 11 3/5 1/2 2/2   2 2 2 2 1     4 7 16
15 BESOK, HUSEYIN 8:00 5 2/3   1/2   2 2           4 1 2
Team             1 1   4           5
Totals 200:00 75 21/38 4/12 21/35 6 22 28 14 12 7 2 1 30 31 85
55.3% 33.3% 60%
This game is not yet played

Head Coaches

OBRADOVIC, ZELJKO
Panathinaikos
"I'm very satisfied with the win and I would like to congratulate all of my players. We studied Maccabi's game very well and our tactical plan worked out perfectly. Maccabi is a great team, but tonight, we were better."
BLATT, DAVID
Maccabi Elite
"I'm disappointed with this loss. We really wanted to play in the final but, on the other hand, we have to recognize that Panathinaikos played a great game. They had in Dejan Bodiroga one of the best leaders in Europe. They have played many minutes with short players, and we didn't find the correct way to stop them. Besides, we missed too many free throws and our rebounding didn't give us the lead either."

Players

BODIROGA, DEJAN
Panathinaikos
"We won agaist a big and strong team. The key? We played smart on offense and hard on defense. We started out very concentrated. We knew that Maccabi was likely to play the game next to the basket, but we played great defense and were smart on offense moving the ball. Now it is another final, and we have to stay focused for that."
ALVERTIS, FRAGISKOS
Panathinaikos
"It was a big fight against a great oponent, but we played really concentrated and did a great job on rebounds. So now we are in the finals and we are happy. Big size isn't always the most important thing. Middleton and Papadopoulos did a great job tonight to help us win."
KUTLUAY, IBRAHIM
Panathinaikos
"We came to Bologna to win this game. We believed before the game that we could beat Maccabi because we are a better team and we proved it in the game. Our first target is already achieved, and with success. I hope that on Sunday we will celebrate one more victory in the final."
MIDDLETON, DARRYL
Panathinaikos
"We did a great job under the basket. We showed we were ready for a big game like this. It was great revenge after losing last season's final to them, so we are quite happy."
MULAOMEROVIC, DAMIR
Panathinaikos
"I made the clutch layup, but it was probably good luck. I shot without thinking about it. I was not lucky with other shots that rolled around the rim and fell out before that. But everyone has played a good game tonight. We won as a team."
BESOK, HUSEYIN
Maccabi Elite
"They played an excellent game both underneath and outside. It's true we had it tough underneath, but we also suffered their game behind the arc. All our players had a bad night tonight. They deserved the win and belong in the final."
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