(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
After tying the best-of-five Euroleague quarterfinal series at 1-1 thanks to a
dramatic Jeremy Pargo basket last week, Maccabi Tel Aviv returns to Nokia Arena
on Tuesday night needing two wins in three days to book a place in the Final
Maccabi seemed to be heading towards a 2-0 deficit in the series,
trailing by four points with one minute to play in Game 2. However, Tel Aviv
somehow managed to snatch a victory thanks to Lior Eliyahu’s three-point play
and Pargo’s jumper in the dying seconds and is now two home wins away from
returning to the showcase event of continental basketball’s most prestigious
competition after two seasons of watching the Final Four on
“We hope to make full use of our home court advantage in
Games 3 and 4,” Maccabi coach David Blatt said.
“Caja is a wonderful
team, very welltrained and with extremely talented players. This series has been
close and difficult up to now, and will remain so, but we’ll do everything in
our power to win it.”
Maccabi beat Caja 81-70 when the teams met at Nokia
in the regular season in November, holding the Euroleague’s best perimeter
shooting team to 15.7 percent from beyond the arc (3 of 19).
Aviv had no answer for Vitoria’s proficiency from long range in the first two
games of the quarterfinal series, with the Spaniards hitting 50 percent of their
46 three-point attempts, while Maccabi only made 24.1% (7 of
Nonetheless, Maccabi found other ways to win, dominating the boards
in both games and especially in last Thursday’s win, when it took nine more
rebounds than Vitoria, including 13 offensive boards.
Caja will have to
find some solution to being outplayed under the baskets, but first and foremost
coach Dusko Ivanovic will be hoping his players will be fresh enough to give
their best at Nokia.
While Maccabi had its BSL game against Hapoel
Gilboa/Galil postponed by a month to allow it to prepare for Game 3, Vitoria had
to travel to face Menorca in the Spanish league on Sunday, winning 77-76 on the
road thanks to Mirza Teletovic, who scored five unanswered points in the final
minute to tie the score before sinking the game-winning triple at the
“We have not said our last word in the series,” Ivanovic said.
“Maccabi has not qualified for the Final Four just yet, and my team will fight
to the best of its abilities, in Tel Aviv or wherever it has to play, knowing
that it can win.
“It is clear that if we want to keep our chances to
advance we must play stronger and tougher than we did in Game 2. We also have to
avoid easy baskets in transition. I trust my team and we are going to give it
our all in the two games that we have to play in Israel.”
just three of 13 field goals in Game 1 on his way to seven points and going a
combined five of 23 in his previous two Euroleague games, Pargo broke out of his
slump last Thursday, scoring 13 points on six of 10 from the field, including
the two most important points of the night.
“They’re not going to give us
anything, just like we didn’t want to give them anything,” Pargo said ahead of
Game 3. “No matter where you are, no matter how tired you are, they’re going to
come out and try to do their best to win. We’ve got to do our best to stop
“We have great fans at Nokia, and I’m pretty sure the fans will be
right behind us, and hopefully we can get it done here in Tel Aviv.”