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Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 2008-09, team profile
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv is coming off another magical season in which the Israeli powerhouse reached the Euroleague title game for the fourth time in five seasons. And despite falling short at the Final Four in Madrid to CSKA Moscow, there is no doubt that this club has earned a special place in the annals of European basketball. Only two clubs -- Real Madrid and CSKA – have more than Maccabi’s five European crowns and only one – Real Madrid – has appeared in more championship games than Maccabi’s 13. Its first European title, in 1977, put Maccabi on the basketball map to stay. Its second, in 1981, was all the extra proof anyone needed. A formula of complementing the best Israeli players with the most select players from abroad always seems to work for Maccabi. Players like Miki Berkowitz, Tal Brody, Motti Aroesti, Kevin Magee, Doron Jamchy, Earl Williams and Aulcie Perry and more recently Derrick Sharp, Arriel McDonald, Anthony Parker and Nikola Vujcic belong to the very elite of all-time European basketball greats. A Suproleague title in 2001, Maccabi's first in 20 years, broke a string of continental title-game appearances that ended without trophies. For the next continental title, Maccabi fans didn’t have to wait long. It came in 2003-04, to top off a season to remember for all Maccabi fans. Sharp’s miracle three-pointer to survive the Top 16 that year has become one of the classic shots in European basketball history. Once in the 2004 Final Four, Maccabi turned to record breaking with a 118-point title game performance that had to be seen to be believed and after a 2004-05 title repeat nearly as commanding, everyone believed. Sarunas Jasikevicius, Parker, Tal Burstein, Maceo Baston and Vujcic, coached by Pini Gershon, made up the first team to repeat as Euroleague champs since 1991. Maccabi returned to the Euroleague title game in 2006, but CSKA stopped the Israeli powerhouse from a three-peat.
CSKA and head coach Ettore Messina have remained a thorn in Maccabi’s side, keeping the yellow-and-blue from the 2007 Final Four with a win in the third-and-deciding game of that season’s Quarterfinal Playoffs. Last season saw Maccabi face a number of hardships, including multiple injuries, a midseason coaching change as well as the challenge of bringing along several new players, however Maccabi overcame it all, beating Real Madrid in a classic overtime performance on the road to advance to the quarterfinals and later storming back from 18 down to beat Montepaschi at the Final Four. Again CSKA stood in the way, turning back Maccabi in the final and stepping up the rivalry between the clubs along the way. 2008-09 brings Maccabi another chance to make another run at the Final Four and CSKA as one of the elite clubs in European basketball.
Monday, June 09, 2008
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