Euroleague: Maccabi will try to wrap it up in Barcelona

Tel Aviv flies out to Spain with only one thing on its mind - advancing to a seventh Euroleague Final Four in nine years.

mac ta halperin 224.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
mac ta halperin 224.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
A fatigued but pleased Maccabi Tel Aviv flew out to Barcelona on Wednesday with only one thing on its mind - winning Game 2 of its quarterfinals playoff on Thursday and advancing to a seventh Euroleague Final Four in nine years. "I only managed to doze for an hour-and-a-half," a drowsy Tzvika Sherf said ahead of the team's flight to Spain. "I've put the first game behind me and I'm now only thinking of Game 2. Barcelona will obviously be more aggressive at home, but the pressure will be on them now. They must win this game." Barcelona was a perfect 3-0 at home in the Top 16, including a 64-62 victory over CSKA Moscow two weeks ago. The Catalans didn't allow more than 62 points in any of their home victories in the Top 16, but as Tuesday's Game 1 showed, they will have a tough time slowing down Maccabi's offense, which led the Top 16 with 86 points per game. Despite shooting just 31.5 percent (6 of 19) from beyond the arc on Tuesday, Tel Aviv hit 22 of 40 (55%) from two-point range and also amassed 19 points from the free throw line (19 of 23). "We had some problems on defense and didn't play as well as we expected," Barcelona coach Xavier Pascual said. "We were tired in the last quarter, missed two shots and committed a turnover, but we still had the option to be in the game until the very end. "We didn't want to speed the game because we know Maccabi is more comfortable when the game is fast. We waited for a moment to change the rhythm. If we had scored the open shots we had, things would have been different." Barcelona chased Maccabi throughout Game 1 and was only within touching distance thanks to Ersan Ilyasova (21 points and 9 rebounds) and Gianluca Basile (17 points), who combined for nine of 16 from three-point range. "We had some match up problems that allowed them to hit three-pointers. We'll have to watch the video and figure out how they made those shots," said Terence Morris, who was superb on Tuesday once more. "We didn't shoot as well as usual, and we also got in foul trouble. We need one more win to play in the Final Four and we'll try to end this series already on Thursday night in Barcelona." The Spaniards star Jaka Lakovic (6 points and 2 assists) was completely neutralized by the Tel Aviv defense at the Nokia Arena, but no one expects the Slovenian playmaker to have two consecutive poor games. "Our plan was to take Jaka Lakovic out of the game, and we were able to do that," Maccabi guard Yotam Halperin said. "The most important thing is that we won and now we need to go and win in Spain as well."