Pre-draw profile: Maccabi Electra

Dec 27, 2011 by Print
Sofoklis Schortsanitis - Maccabi Electra
Sofoklis Schortsanitis
Maccabi Electra Tel AvivIsraeli powerhouse Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv storms into the Top 16 after a strong Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season in which the team went undefeated in front of its loyal fans at Nokia Arena and placed second in Group C with a 7-3 record. There were some hiccups along the way as head coach David Blatt incorporated more than half a dozen new faces into blue-and-yellow uniforms, but after advancing to the continental title game for the seventh time in 12 years last season, Maccabi now looks poised for another serious run. Maccabi has been a key club in European basketball history. It put Israel on the sporting map and has dominated its national league to the tune of 39 league titles in 42 years. Maccabi has also accumulated five European titles and appeared in 14 continental championship games, which ties it for the all-time record with another legendary club, Real Madrid. Its formula of complementing the best Israeli players with talented, committed stars 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, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Anthony Parker and Nikola Vujcic belong to the elite of all-time European basketball greats. Maccabi won its first Euroleague title in 1977 - changing European basketball history forever - and did it again in 1981 with Berkowitz as its very own superstar. Maccabi had to wait until 2001 to lift the SuproLeague trophy, which broke a string of five continental final appearances that ended the wrong way. Maccabi fans did not have to wait too much longer for another big title, as it all clicked in the 2003-04 season. Sharp’s miracle three-pointer to survive the Top 16 that year has become one of the classic shots in European basketball history and simply unforgettable for any Maccabi fan. Once in the 2004 Final Four, Maccabi turned to record breaking with an outstanding 118-point title game performance to batter Bologna. The next year Maccabi became the first team to repeat as Euroleague champion since Split in 1991. Jasikevicius, Parker, Tal Burstein, Maceo Baston and Vujcic, coached by Pini Gershon, became a classic lineup in European basketball history. Maccabi got back to the Euroleague final for the third year in a row in 2006, but CSKA stood in the way of a three-peat. CSKA remained a thorn in Maccabi’s side, downing Maccabi in the 2007 playoffs and the 2008 Euroleague final. Maccabi did not get back to the Final Four again until last season, when Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Lior Eliyahu joined David Blu, Chuck Eidson and Doron Perkins to make up a strong team. Maccabi downed Caja Laboral in the playoffs and knocked off Madrid in the semifinal to reach the title game. Panathinaikos prevailed in the final but Maccabi set the basis for a bright future. Now that Maccabi has extended its run of reaching the Top 16, it sets its sights next on the playoffs with every intention of flying to Istanbul in May for a shot at another Euroleague trophy.