S a spurs 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
The San Antonio Spurs were playing for the pride of an entire league on Sunday afternoon.
Two losses by NBA teams against European clubs in the last four days had cast a doubt over the superiority of the North American basketball clubs and left the Spurs with the job of reestablishing dominance.
Maccabi Tel Aviv had been the only European side in the last 18 years to beat an NBA team, defeating the Toronto Raptors 105-103 a year ago in Canada. However, the Philadelphia 76ers' 104-99 loss to Barcelona on Thursday and CSKA Moscow's 94-75 pounding of the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday dented a belief that the NBA sides are a cut above their international rivals and some were even saying that the European clubs could compete on equal terms with the NBA.
However, on Sunday, San Antonio squashed any such notion. The Spurs opened an early 24-6 lead and strolled from there to a 97-84 win.
San Antonio and Maccabi are both in the middle of their preseason training, but the game was far more than a friendly match. The Spurs were intent on making a statement against Tel Aviv. The NBA power wanted to restore an aura of invincibility that surrounds NBA teams when they play against international clubs and did that by dominating Maccabi throughout the game.
But Europe may still have the final laugh. Six more games are scheduled between European sides and NBA teams over the next few weeks, with Tel Aviv playing in three of them.
For the time being though, the Spurs made sure that the old order was restored. Will it still be that way in two weeks' time?
We'll find out soon enough.