Final Four Round 1 - May 06, 2005 CET: 18:10 Local time: 19:10 - OLYMPIYSKY ARENA
FINAL FOUR, ROUND 1

Records

Ave.   Ave.
0-0 Final Four 0-0
2-0 Playoffs 2-1
0-0 Eighthfinals 0-0
0-0 Top 16 0-0
0-0 Regular Season 0-0
18-4 Overall 14-9

Referees

Crew Chief
JUNGEBRAND, CARL, Finland
Referee
FACCHINI, FABIO, Italy
Umpire
ARTEAGA, JUAN CARLOS, Spain

Team Stats

Ave.   Ave.
92.2 Points 80.7
34.7 Rebounds 27.6
8.5 O. Rebounds 8.3
26.2 D. Rebounds 19.2
17.3 Assists 11.4
11.2 Steals 8.6
4.2 Blocks 2.1
11.5 Turnovers 13.7
57.4 % 2PT 55.8 %
39.9 % 3PT 39.1 %
77.7 % FT 75.5 %
112.5 Index 81.5

Player Stats

Ave.   Ave.
18.5 / PARKER, ANTHONY Points 15.6 / Lakovic
5.5 / BASTON, M. Rebounds 4.5 / Batiste
2.1 / BASTON, M. OR 1.4 / Batiste
4.9 / PARKER, ANTHONY DR 3.1 / Batiste
5.2 / Jasikevicius Assists 3.0 / Diamantidis
2.1 / PARKER, ANTHONY Steals 1.9 / Diamantidis
1.5 / BASTON, M. Blocks 0.6 / Diamantidis
3.0 / Jasikevicius Turnovers 2.3 / Lakovic
67.2 % / BASTON, M. 2PT 59.4 % / Diamantidis
46.3 % / PARKER, ANTHONY 3PT 60.0 % / PAPANIKOLAOU, DIMITRIOS
94.3 % / Jasikevicius FT 93.8 % / KALAITZIS, GEORGIOS
25.8 / PARKER, ANTHONY Index 16.2 / Lakovic

THE TAKE

Maccabi Tel Aviv and Panathinaikos will battle for a spot in the Euroleague final by facing each other in the first semifinal in Moscow, Russia on Friday at 18:10 CET. Maccabi is the current Euroleague champion and will try to become the first team to win consecutive titles since 1991. Meanwhile, Panathinaikos returns to the Final Four for the first time since 2002, in which the Greens won their third Euroleague title in seven years. Above all, is a battle between two of the winningest coaches in European basketball history. Pini Gershon has coached Maccabi four full seasons, reaching the Final Four each time and winning the Suproleague in 2001 and the Euroleague in 2004. He has not lost a semifinal game yet. Obradovic has won a record five Euroleague titles with four different teams - Partizan, Joventut, Real Madrid and Panathinaikos - and makes his ninth Final Four appearance, also more than anyone in history. As such, experience a major strength for both bosses and their teams. Maccabi and Panathinaikos have already faced off in three Final Fours. Panathinaikos beat Maccabi 73-67 in the 2000 Euroleague final, Maccabi took his revenge by downing Panathinaikos 81-67 in the 2001 SuproLeague final. And in the 2002 Euroleague semifinals, Panathinaikos beat Maccabi 83-75 and went on to win the title. Friday's semifinal marks their fourth confrontation in six years at a Final Four, making their rivarly a modern classic. This year, both teams battled a long way to make it to the Final Four. Maccabi won its regular season group and has been unbeaten in both the Top 16 and the Quarterfinal Playoffs, in which it swept Scavolini Pesaro 2-0. Panathinaikos had it tougher, using a 23-point victory to win its Top 16 group in a three-way tie with Tau Ceramica and Climamio Bologna. The home court advantage proved to be decisive against Efes Pilsen, as Panathinaikos got its Final Four berth with a 84-76 win in Athens in front of 18,000 fans at OAKA Olympic Stadium, one of the biggest crowds ever in European basketball. Panathinaikos arrives in Moscow with its full roster, while Maccabi will be without Deon Thomas, out for the season with a broken leg. It will be the first official game between both teams this season.

Maccabi Tel Aviv kept almost all of the star-studded roster with which it went all the way last season. Playmaker Sarunas Jasikevicius could become the first player to win three consecutive Euroleague titles since several Jugoplastika Split players did it between 1989 and 1991. He will go head-to-head against another natural-born winner, Panathinaikos point guard Jaka Lakovic, who is having a career season and is ready for superstardom. Jasikevicius had 30 points and Lakovic 22 the last times these teams met, on January 22, 2004. This season, Jasikevicius led the Top 16 in assists, while Lakovic was the second top scorer in that stage. Another big matchup will take place between the Euroleague MVP, Anthony Parker of Maccabi and the winner of the new Best Defender Trophy, Dimitris Diamantidis of Panathinaikos. Parker has scored in double digits in 20 out of 22 games this season, but he will certainly not have it easy against Diamantidis, whose long arms and quick legs turn him into a prime defensive stopper. Parker will get some help from Tal Burstein, a man made for big games and a solid contributor at both ends, as well as Derrick Sharp, who will come off the bench to provide court sense and intensity. Meanwhile, Obradovic can count of a solid battery of players at both wings spots, including the player who holds the record with seven Final Four appearances, veteran captain Fragiskos Alvertis, top shooter Vlado Scepanovic, experienced slasher Nikos Hatzivrettas and sharpshooter Ibrahim Kutluay. The battle in the paint will also be interesting, with Maccabi shorthanded due to the injury of Thomas. Versatile center Nikola Vujcic will be Maccabi's main reference in the paint along with athletic big man Maceo Baston, both of whom have been star-level contributors for two season now. Yaniv Green should see his playing time extended, while Nestoras Kommatos and Gur Shelef will likely see some minutes at the power forward spot. They all battle against a talented group of Panathinaikos big men featuring Kostas Tsarstaris, Mike Batiste, Patrick Femerling, little-used Lonny Baxter and even Alvertis, if coach Obradovic tries his small lineup. A key factor may well be rotation, as Panathinaikos can use all its 12 players at any time, like it did against Efes in Game 3 of the quarterfinals. The Greens will have more chances if it prevents Maccabi, the top scoring team in the Euroleague, from making easy baskets, while Maccabi will rely on fast offense and strong team defense to reach the Final.
Thursday, May 5, 2005
Euroleague.net

Quotes Head Coaches

GERSHON, PINI
Maccabi Elite
"I don't know all the history before. I have coached Maccabi for five years and this is my fourth time at a Final Four. Maccabi Tel Aviv is a big club that always wants to reach the Final Four and be champion. Everyone knows our history in Israel, but I think also that in Europe, Maccabi Tel Aviv is one of the best teams at reaching the Final Four. It is always a challenge, but it's not enough to be here. We are not just happy be here. We want the title."
"I feel confident. I feel good. As Coach Obradovic has said, good coaches make good teams. If everyone says that the best teams are here, maybe the best coaches are here also."
"Statistically, we are the best offensive team in Europe. In the Top 16, we also had one of best defensive teams in the Euroleague, I believe. So, we can be better at both sides, but statistically, in the overall valuation, we are the best in Europe, and in most of the other statistical categories. But statistics don't help you when the ball goes up. It is not only coaches and players, but conditions surrounding the game. For example, even if you work hard all year, if you don't sleep the night before the game, you might not play good."
(about Zeljko Obradovic) "We are friends. There is going to be a winner and a loser. Those are the two options, get the win or not, but after we will still be friends."
OBRADOVIC, ZELJKO
Panathinaikos
(Do you have a secret to your success?) "The secret is always the same. The players must play good."
"The motivation is always the same. I am here with my players and we played hard all season to be here. We are happy to play against the best team in Europe tomorrow. Maccabi is an excellent team and the champion, so by playing against them we get to see how we are. For us, it will be something very special to play tomorrow against Maccabi."
"I think all these teams are here to play and win. No one is here to be tourists. There is no doubt about that."
"Without question, Maccabi is an excellent team and have great quality to play how they play. I could talk about Anthony, Jasikevicius, Vujcic and also about Pini, because a team is what the coach want it to do. Pini gives them the opportunity to play how they want to play, and that's important. Basketball is not about defense only or offense only. Both things are very important. Tomorrow we will see what happens."

Players

PARKER, ANTHONY
Maccabi Elite
(On Maccabi's offensive strength). "We don't really think about it too much. We have a great system and a great group of players. The system is very fun to play in, very entertaining, I think that's what we take pride in."
"I don't go out there trying to prove I am worth being the MVP. I think the goal at end of the day is to have the best team, and then individual awards are sorted out afterwards. That's my focus and our team's focus."
"I think if a team goes into this weekend trying to change who they are, they are in trouble. Certainly, we're not going to repeat what happened last year. This is a great Panathinaikos team. They're talented, deep and playing their best basketball right now. With the great coach they have, it will be tough. They are very aggressive and physical, and certainly we are going to be prepared for that."
(Is offense or defense the key to victory?) "I think that it's defense. If you play good defense and offensively do what you are supposed to do, it makes it a little easier to win. If offensively you are doing what you have to, but the other team scores easy, the game is always going to be close. Offensively, if we play as we have all year, we'll be OK, but defensively we've got to step up and play aggressive defense, because it's the Final Four. We did it last year and I hope we can do it again this year."
JASIKEVICIUS, SARUNAS
Maccabi Elite
"Whatever happened in the last two years, on tomorrow and Sunday will not have any significance. Tomorrow, we've got to come out and play hard and hopefully be on top of our game, because that's what we'll have to do to beat Panathinaikos." "These are two historical teams in Europe, no question about it. These are great organizations, with great coaches, great players and great fans. Everything is pretty much great about these teams. But listen, that's why they are playing here in the Final Four: both had great seasons. Hopefully tomorrow, we can show the fans a good game. We hope to come out on top, but we know it will be extremely difficult."
VUJCIC, NIKOLA
Maccabi Elite
"One thing is for certain, we have to score more baskets than them, that's the main goal. This is a great arena, but when you come on court you forget about all that. We have 24 hours before the game, but the preparation is more or less the same, a game is a game. The loss of Deon Thomas will be very important, he will be missed on and off the court. It is hard to replace him, but we will give our maximum."
SHARP, DERRICK
Maccabi Elite
"The arena is very big. It looks like the fans might have a problem because the stands are very far from the court, but I'm sure they will make it loud enough. Panathinaikos have very tough guards – Lakovic, Diamantidis, Kutluay…we know everybody. we know all the names. It looks like it's not the same if we don't play against Panathinaikos in the Final Four. We don't care about records and what happened in the past. We are here to set new records."
BASTON, MACEO
Maccabi Elite
"We have prepared tomorrow's game in no special way. We just did our usual routine and tried to get ready for the semifinal. We have not lost since we fell to Barcelona in the Top 16 so we must keep going that way. It is our second time here so we'll just use the same approach and try to stay healthy and free of injuries so we have our roster in tip-top condition."
BURSTEIN, TAL
Maccabi Elite
"Step by step we start to get the feeling of a Final Four. We are not over-excited but preparing for the game. It's not my first time in such big arena, and I'm sure Maccabi fans will be heard all over the place. We have waited for this moment the whole year, and now we are here to enjoy it."
LAKOVIC, JAKA
Panathinaikos
"It's great to be here, but my dream is not only to be in the Final Four. My dream is winning the cups, all kinds of cups. That's what I am here for."
"I think Maccabi is a complete team. They are great both inside and outside, they play a lot of pick-and-rolls well. They have many creators, outside and inside, too, with Vujcic. We have to be a complete team, playing defense all around. We have to be everywhere to get a chance to win the game. And we will do that."
"It's my first year at a Final Four. I will do it my way, like I do it every game. For sure, my way is being a little crazy before the game, but when the game starts, all goes away and I just play the game."
"The matchup between me and Saras, I didn't think about it. In our strategy, individual matchups do not exist. There is Panathinaikos playing against Maccabi. If I look at tomorrow as an individual matchup, for sure Panathinaikos loses. The only way to win is to play a team game and not think about individual records, matchups and those types of things."
DIAMANTIDIS, DIMITRIS
Panathinaikos
"It is a difficult game for both teams, nobody can say right now who will win. We definitely have to play as a team, not as individuals, to win the game. The Olympiysky Arena is very big, very nice. Deon Thomas will not be with Maccabi, but they have very good players, so we have to play hard. We will see what happens."
HATZIVRETTAS, NIKOS
Panathinaikos
"The team is great, we feel fine and we'll have to play good ball to win. We have prepared the game well, we have faced Maccabi a few times now and the key of the game will be the defense. If we defend well we'll have good chances to succeed."
BAXTER, LONNY
Panathinaikos
"We feel good, it's great to be here. It's my first Final Four and we will try to make it the best situation for us. We will just focus on doing our thing, like we always do, to try to beat Maccabi and reach the final."
SCEPANOVIC, VLADO
Panathinaikos
"Maccabi is a very good team, with great intensity, but so are we, so I think it will be a good game for fans. This is a very big arena, but when you start playing, you just focus on the game and forget about everything. This is my second Final Four and it is great to be here. It is important that we have 12 quality players who can score, this is our advantage. But the game lasts 40 minutes and you never know what's gonna happen and how many players will be used. We'll see about it tomorrow."
PAPANIKOLAOU, DIMITRIOS
Panathinaikos
"It's going to be a big game against a very good team. Maccabi is the Euroleague champion, but I think we have the chance to beat them in this game. The key of the game will be shutting down Maccabi's transition game, but they also have some weaknesses in defense. The Olympiysky Arena is a very good place, and there will be a good atmosphere in the Final Four."
Anthony Parker - Maccabi Elite - FF Moscow 2005 An historic attempt to take two Euroleague titles in a row is still alive after defending champion Maccabi Tel Aviv downed Panathinaikos 91-82 in the first semifinal of the Euroleague Final Four before 13,500 fans at Olympiyski Arena in Moscow on Friday. A masterful performance by Sarunas Jasikevicius, who finished with 13 points and 8 assists, was key for Maccabi. So was Derrick Sharp, who came off the bench for 20 points, his most ever in a Euroleague game. Maccabi had led by 12 points in the second quarter, but Panathianikos completed a comeback to take a brief 54-55 lead in the third quarter, before Euroleague MVP Anthony Parker scored his first basket on the way to 13 points. Maccabi was loyal to its usual basketball philosophy and put six players in double digits, with Tal Burstein and Maceo Baston adding 14 points each, while Nikola Vujcic had 11. Ibrahim Kutluay led Panathinaikos with 17 points. Dimitris Diamantidis and Vlado Scepanovic each had 16 while Fragiskos Alvertis added 10 for the Greens. Maccabi will face the winner of the second semifinal between CSKA Moscow and Tau Ceramica with the chance to become the first team to win consecutive Euroleague titles since Split scored a three-peat between 1989 and 1991. Meanwhile, Panathinaikos will fight for the third place in this year's Euroleague to cap a very succesful season. Maccabi head coach Pini Gershon enters its fourth consecutive final with the team. Sarunas Jasikevicius could be the first player to win three Euroleague titles in a row since 1991, his first having come with Barcelona in 2003 and his second last season with Maccabi.

Panathinaikos started the game ready to take the offensive challenge, with top bombers Scepanovic and Kutluay in the starting five. It took Maccabi seven seconds to score, as Jasikevicius found Baston for an alley-oop layup. Scepanovic got Panathinaikos started with a driving layup while Lakovic added free throws and gave the Greens a 3-4 edge still in the opening minute. Scepanovic added a five-meter jumper to cap a 0-6 Panathinaikos run, but Kutluay picked up his second foul. Vujcic found a three-point play in the paint for a 6-6 tie, as the Greens entered the foul bonus in less than 3 minutes. Burstein put Maccabi back ahead with a short jumper, and even though Kutluay immediately answered from downtown, Baston buried a five-meter shot which Vujcic followed with a put-back layup for a 12-9 Maccabi lead. An unstoppable Scepanovic made a three from the right wing, but Jasikevicius made free throws to keep Maccabi up, 14-12. Baston provided some showtime with a two-handed dunk while giving the Greens trouble when trying to score around the basket. Meanwhile, Burstein made a reverse layup for an 18-14 Maccabi margin. Alvertis came off the bench and immediately scored in the paint, while Parker found his first points in the free throw line, as he had struggled against Scepanovic's excellent defense. Lakovic tried to wake Panathinaikos up with a driving layup, but Maccabi was now unstoppable. Good ball circulation allowed Burstein to nail a corner three which gave the reigning champs a 25-18 lead after 10 minutes.

Dimitrios Diamantidis - Panathinaikos - FF Moscow 2005Kutluay opened fire in the second quarter with a big three, but that didn't change things. Baston fed Nestoras Kommatos for a layup while Sharp slashed for a three-point play and a 30-21 Maccabi lead. Diamantidis matched that at the other end, but Panathinaikos faced early foul trouble, with as many as five players already with 2 fouls apiece after 12 minutes. Diamantidis became the go-to guy for the Greens, as he scored from downtown to make it 31-27. Maccabi played now with both Sharp and Jasikevicius on court, and it worked brilliantly. Sharp followed a corner three with a tough layup, while 'Saras' fed Yaniv Green for an easy layup, enough to keep Maccabi in charge at 38-31. Panathinaikos coach Zeljko Obradovic called timeout and tried a small lineup with Diamantidis at the point to guard Sharp and Alvertis playing power forward. But Sharp was simply on fire. He followed free throws with another bomb from downtown, as Maccabi got its first double-digit lead, 43-33. The Greens struggled to score, while Burstein took over with a wild dunk in traffic which capped a 9-2 run. Scepanovic came to the rescue for Panathinaikos with a catch-and-shoot three, which Maccabi coach Pini Gershon answered with a quick timeout. Burstein found room for a six-meter jumper, but Alvertis fired in his trademark triple in the other end to make it a seven-point game, 47-40. Maccabi now had trouble against Panathinaikos's switching man-to-man defense. Even with that, Jasikevicius found a fast break layup to extend Maccabi's margin to 49-41 at halftime.

Nikos Hatzivrettas slashed for a layup to open the third quarter, but Jasikevicius dished his sixth assist to Baston, who turned a wild dunk into a three-point play to give Maccabi a 52-43 lead. Tsartsaris scored in the paint and by the time Diamantidis buried his second three-pointer, Maccabi knew it was in trouble. Hatzivrettas added free throws which brought the Greens back into the game, 52-50. Maccabi went scoreless for more than 4 minutes in which the current Euroleague holders missed 6 shots and committed 3 turnovers while entering the foul bonus, too. Hatzivrettas made the most out of it, drilling free throws to tie the game, 52-52. Sharp tried to change things with a layup on goaltending by Tsartsaris, but a red hot Hatzivrettas took over with a big three which gave the Greens their first lead since the early going, 54-55. Sharp stepped up with a mid-range jumper to put his team back in track, 58-55. Parker showed his MVP credentials in crunch time, following a big shot with a triple for a 61-55 Maccabi lead. Kutluay came off the bench after a Panathinaikos timeout and immediately nailed a three, but Maccabi had found its rhythm. Baston scored an acrobatic layup and Sharp - who else? - buried with fourth bomb from downtown to boost their team's margin to 66-58. Parker stayed on fire with a high-flying jumper, but a driving basket by Kutluay and a buzzer-beater tip-in by Tsartsaris brought Panathinaikos within 68-62 after 30 minutes, keeping the Greens' chances alive.

Maccabi Elite - FF Moscow 2005Panathinaikos forced a shot-clock violation on Maccabi to open the fourthe quarter. Kostas Tsartsaris followed that with a big block on Jasikevicius before Lakovic picked up his fourth foul. The Greens failed to score at the other end, however, and Maccabi found a go-to guy in Vujcic. He scored twice around the basket to boost his team's margin back to double digits, 72-62. Kutluay and Jasikevicius exchanged three-pointers, but Alvertis stepped up with a jumper which kept the Greens alive, 75-67. That's when Jasikevicius decided he had enough. He slashed for a tough layup and added free throws soon after that for a 12-point Maccabi margin, 79-67. Obradovic called timeout and put Scepanovic back on court looking for more fire power. Diamantidis tried to change things with a three-point play, but an unsportsmanlike foul on Alvertis allowed Maccabi to keep a safe lead. Kutluay nailed his fifth three of the game and added a free throw to bring Panathinaikos within single digits, 81-73, with 3:02 remaining. Baston grabbed an offensive rebound to score in the paint, but Diamantidis fed Alvertis for a basket-plus-foul which gave the Greens some hope at 83-76. Parker provided the highlight with a two-handed alley-oop dunk, while Jasikevicius sealed the outcome from the free throw line. A majority of Maccabi fans in the standings started to celebrate, knowning then that their team would be there to defend the Euroleague title in the Final.
Friday, May 6, 2005
Javier Gancedo, Euroleague.net, Moscow
Referees: JUNGEBRAND, CARL (FIN), FACCHINI, FABIO (ITA), ARTEAGA, JUAN CARLOS (ESP)
Attendance: 13607
By Quarter1234
Maccabi Elite25241923
Panathinaikos18232120
End of Quarter1234
Maccabi Elite25496891
Panathinaikos18416282
Head coach: GERSHON, PINI
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 FANAN, REGEV DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5 BASTON, MACEO 23:30 14 6/6   2/3 1 4 5 1 4 1 2   3 3 24
6 SHARP, DERRICK 25:15 20 4/5 3/5 3/4 1 2 3   1 2   1 2 2 17
7 VUJCIC, NIKOLA 29:00 11 4/5   3/3 3 2 5 2 1 2   1 2 2 15
8 PARKER, ANTHONY 37:00 13 3/6 1/1 4/6   5 5 3 1 2   1 1 6 19
9 SHELEF, GUR 1:15 2 1/1                         2
10 BURSTEIN, TAL 25:30 14 4/6 1/6 3/4   1 1 3   3     5 2 4
11 HALPERIN, YOTAM 0:15                              
12 DOTAN, ASSAF DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
13 JASIKEVICIUS, SARUNAS 33:15 13 2/6 1/3 6/7       8 1 3   1 2 6 15
20 KOMMATOS, NESTORAS 18:45 2 1/1     1 3 4   2   3   4 1 8
41 GREEN, YANIV 6:15 2 1/2       1 1   1 1     3   -1
Team                   7 1         6
Totals 200:00 91 26/38 6/15 21/27 6 18 24 17 18 15 5 4 22 22 109
68.4% 40% 77.8%
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: 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 22:00 10 3/5 1/4 1/1   1 1       1   3 1 5
5 KALAITZIS, GEORGIOS 7:00   0/1     1   1 1             1
6 PAPANIKOLAOU, DIMITRIOS DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7 LAKOVIC, JAKA 17:00 4 1/2 0/4 2/2   1 1 1 2       4 3 2
8 BATISTE, MIKE 26:00 2 1/2     2 4 6   2 4   1   2 6
9 FEMERLING, PATRICK 13:45 4 1/1   2/2 2   2 1 1 1 1   3 3 8
10 HATZIVRETTAS, NIKOS 15:00 9 1/1 1/3 4/4 1 1 2 2 1 3   1 1 2 9
12 TSARTSARIS, KOSTAS 18:00 4 2/2   0/2 1 2 3   1 1 1 2 4 1 1
13 DIAMANTIDIS, DIMITRIS 34:00 16 3/3 2/4 4/6 1 4 5 5 3 3 1 1 3 5 24
14 SCEPANOVIC, VLADO 26:15 16 4/7 2/4 2/2         1 1       3 14
19 KUTLUAY, IBRAHIM 21:00 17 2/6 4/8 1/2 3   3 1 1 3     4 2 8
35 BAXTER, LONNY DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Team           1 2 3   3 2         4
Totals 200:00 82 18/30 10/27 16/21 12 15 27 11 15 18 4 5 22 22 82
60% 37% 76.2%
This game is not yet played

Head Coaches

GERSHON, PINI
Maccabi Elite
"It has been a tough and close game, like every game again Panathinaikos. They play well on offense and use many nice objects in defense. As was said earlier, they would have played with the pleasure to be underdog, so I think it wasn't easy to play as favourite. We played an average game, but our average is a good game. I have to thank our bench: Kommatos, Sharp and Green helped us big in winning this game. I am satisfied about our defense, we played it good the most of the time. After first few minutes, we found the way to play against them, using a type of zone against their four guards. And we won. Saras? Unfortunately, he was not in a good-shooting night, but he helped us in a lot of many ways to make it to the final. Yes, we won as a team. No matter who starts the game, no matter who is a big player. You can win only playing like a team. Thanks to our crowd too: we are used to playing in front of our people and they helped tonigh, too, in an arena in which they are far from the court. They are always with us."
OBRADOVIC, ZELJKO
Panathinaikos
"First, congratulations to Maccabi for this win. As expected, it has been a difficult game and it became even very much difficult. I'm very proud of our season in the Euroleague, for how we played today against a big-quality team, which played well today, too. We tried everything to win tonight, but we made big mistakes at the end of the third quarter. In those last 3 minutes we had just 2 fouls committed, but we let them scoring nine easy points. You can't do it in game like this and, especially, you can't lose concentration against Maccabi."
"Did we guard well on Parker & Saras? We prepared the defensive game against all Maccabi's team, not only against two players, even though they're big players. In the first half, we made mistakes playing full-court pressure and we left them for open shots."
"Jaka Lakovic? He started committing three straight fouls and this has conditioned his game. But this is his first-ever Final Four and I'm sure it will not be the last. As I said yesterday, we are really happy to have joined this event with some unexperienced players. Maccabi has experience and I think they have shown it."

Players

PARKER, ANTHONY
Maccabi Elite
"They really focused on the inside, on the highscreen and roll and that opened it up for a lot of other guys. I don't care how many points I score as long as we win. Derrick (Sharp) can do it all, and he gave us a spark off the bench that was what we exactly really needed."
VUJCIC, NIKOLA
Maccabi Elite
"I never thought it was over. I only thought it was over against Zalgiris last season and I will never think it again. This team is never a one-man show because we have a lot of quality players. Take Derrick Sharp and Tal Burstin, they were amazing tonight. Or team is much more than two or three players. The atmosphere with so many Maccabi fans was great."
SHARP, DERRICK
Maccabi Elite
"We came out ready in the beginning. We got a little cushion and that gave us some momentum, and from there we played from in front pretty well. They made a great effort to come back, but we were able to hold them off in the end."
BURSTEIN, TAL
Maccabi Elite
"I think we had control of the gmae for the most part. We led almost from the beginning. I think Panathinaikos did a good job of taking the ball out of the hands of our big players. But we have good enough guys to make up the points and we made good decisions against them. When they trap Saras and Anthony, I'm not going to look for the extra pass if I am open. Also our, bit guys did a great job rebounding, which helped us keep it going."
"It wasn't our best game of the year. We can play better than this, but I guess because it was the first game, and we played this way in the semifinal last year. We need to do more. We haven't done anything yet. We have to come back better because both CSKA and Tau are great teams and we'll meet one of them in the Final."
BASTON, MACEO
Maccabi Elite
"We saw all that yellow coming out of tunnel and it was incredible. We have a comfort level seeing that yellow. We got down with the crowd throughout. Knowing that we had all this support there definitely made a difference."
ALVERTIS, FRAGISKOS
Panathinaikos
"Maccabi is an amazing offensive team. We hoped to make it to the finals, but us being here is a big success already. We stopped Maccabi for 3 quarters but against a team like they have right now it's just not enough."
BATISTE, MIKE
Panathinaikos
"We fought hard but they were simply better. Our game plan worked but we just couldn't stop them. It was a good experience for us and I'm sure we'll be back to another Final Four in the future."
HATZIVRETTAS, NIKOS
Panathinaikos
"Maccabi surely played a great game tonight. We had some problems with their defense, Maccabi made the shots as d they have a good team full of good players. The factor for the win were not the fans but Maccabi players, We are used to play in this kind of atmosphere. We tried hard to stay in the game but they always came up with the big shots, including a key triple by Parker."
FEMERLING, PATRICK
Panathinaikos
"Maccabi were better. In most of the game we played good defense but it just didn't help. Maccabi's fans didn't interrupt us, but of course they helped their team and I guess Maccabi felt like they are playing at home. Sharp came off the bench amazingly and hurt us alot. you can't stop everybody and he made the difference. Now I want Maccabi to win the finals and my friens Saras will look better."
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