Maccabi TA rallies to reach Euro final

Tel Aviv comes back from 18 point deficit in the first half to beat Italy's Montepaschi Siena 92-85.

sherf semifinal 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
sherf semifinal 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Tel Aviv overcame an 18-point, second-quarter deficit to beat Montepaschi Siena 92-85 Friday and advance to the Euroleague basketball final against CSKA Moscow. The Russian club earned a third straight trip to the final, getting 16 points apiece from David Anderson and Ramunas Siskaukus to outlast Tau Ceramica 83-79 and give Italian coach Ettore Messina a chance at a third Euroleague crown. The title game Sunday will be a rematch of the championship two years ago, when CSKA beat the Israeli side 73-69 in Prague. CSKA lost last year to Panathinaikos in Athens. Both teams have won the European club title five times. Siena dominated the first half of Friday's game and led 45-33 at intermission. But Maccabi rallied in the second half behind substitutes Alex Garcia, who scored 19, and Derrick Sharp, who had 17. Will Bynum and Terence Morris had 13 points each while David Blumenthal had 11. "The first time we took the lead, I saw the body language of Siena, which until then had been very confident, go down," Maccabi coach Tzvika Sherf said. "We had the help of the big heart of Alex Garcia. He has a heart that goes from here to Tel Aviv to Brazil. "We opened the first period badly, but in the third and fourth periods we did what we needed to do," coach Sherf told Channel 10 after the game. "Now we'll see who [else] is in the finals. We'll have to gather more strength." "Now we have to be quiet and rest. Every coach, even if it was not me, would like to win the final. Whoever reaches the final, it will be a big fight." Terrell McIntyre led Siena with 26, and Ksistof Lavrovic added 17. Siena will face the loser between Tau Vitora and CSKA in the third place game Sunday. Siena, coming off a 31-3 record in the Italian league, led 8-0 within three minutes, 20-8 after 10 minutes, and eventually 36-18 with 4:45 left in the first half. The introduction of Sharp improved Maccabi fortunes, immediately sinking a three-point shot, and getting another from Morris that cut the gap to 10. Maccabi, which has lost three of four games in the Israeli league since qualifying for the Euro Final Four, went on a 13-0 run at the end of the third quarter and into the start of the fourth, capped by a three-pointer by Bynum that gave Maccabi its first lead 67-64. "I'm a little sad because I would have liked to have been in the final," Montepaschi coach Simone Pianigiani said. "But I am just proud that we are here and played a game like this. "I have nothing bad to say to my players. They fought to the end. We played face-to-face with them and it was a great game for everybody." In the second semifinal, CSKA led 57-56 to start the fourth, but built the advantage to 67-61 on Theordors Papaloukas' three-pointer with 5:19 remaining, Tau Ceramica's Igor led all scorers with 19 points, and helped give his side a 39-33 halftime lead. CSKA pulled even 44-44 midway through the third quarter and moved ahead by four, 50-46, with 5:30 remaining in the period.