One game away from a 'three-peat'

Maccabi TA crushes Tau Vitoria in the first semi-final of the Euroleague Final Four in Prague.

maccabi tel aviv 88 (photo credit: )
maccabi tel aviv 88
(photo credit: )
Maccabi Tel Aviv is just one game away from making history and becoming only the third team in European basketball history to win a 'three-peat' - three consecutive European titles. Backed by thousands of its die-hard 'yellow' fans, Pini Gershon's squad trounced Spain's Tau Vitoria 85-70 on Friday night in the first semi-final game of the Euroleague Final Four Basketball Championship in Prague. The final result was hardly representative of the one-sided game. Tau, an otherwise much stronger team, was no match to Maccabi as the game's 'garbage time' officially began six minutes into the third quarter with Tel Aviv up 32, 71-39!!! In what turned out to be the decisive first half, Maccabi's Anthony Parker once again proved why he was the best player in Europe, leading all scorers with 19 points. As Maccabi secured its victory, Parker came up empty in the second half. Maceo Baston led Maccabi with 20 points, Nicola Vujcic had a solid game, with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Tal Burstein scored 12. In the finals, which will be played on Sunday, Maccabi will face CSKA Moscow that defeated Barcelona 84-75 in the second semi-finals on Friday. First quarter Maccabi came out strong and was up 11-4 midway through the period. Though Tau managed to reduce the lead to 17-14, the Spanish side was unable to stop another Maccabi surge and the quarter ended with a 7-point Maccabi lead, 24-17. Second quarter Tau opened the quarter with a strong showing, cutting the lead to 2 points, 24-22, but a consequent 11-0 run by Parker & co. marked the beginning of a dismal quarter for Vitoria. The Spanish team crumbled on offense and was unable to stop a confident Maccabi side on defense. By halftime, Maccabi was up 19, 51-32. Third quarter Maccabi began the second half as if there was no break in the game, outscoring Tau 13-5 in the first five minutes of play and extending its lead to 27 points (64-37). Tel Aviv's players showed no mercy and at one point were up by a whopping 32 points. Tau was buried 15 minutes before the buzzer. Fourth quarter The final quarter of the game was 'garbage time'. Gershon even called a timeout with 6 minutes to play after Tau cut the lead to 22 (79-57). Fearing humiliation and with Maccabi taking the foot off the gas pedal, Tau managed to salvage some points. When the final whistle blew, the scoreboard showed 85-70, a score hardly representative of Maccabi's performance.