2005-06Final FourSEMIFINAL A
April 28, 2006 CET: 17:30
Local time: 17:30 SAZKA ARENA
Will Solomon - Maccabi Elite - Final Four Prague 2006 - EB05

Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv got closer to win its third consecutive Euroleague title by downing Tau Ceramica 85-70

In a rematch of last year's title game, Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv moved a step closer to a historic Euroleague three-peat on Friday with a 85-70 win over Tau Ceramica in the first Final Four semifinal game at sold-out Sazka Arena in Prague. Maceo Baston scored 20 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and had a Euroleague career-best 6 blocks to lead Maccabi to a spot in Sunday's final, where it will face the winner of Friday's other semifinal, CSKA against Barcelona. If Maccabi can win the title on Sunday, it will join ASK Riga and Jugoplastika Split as the only teams to win three consecutive Euroleague titles. Maccabi coach Pini Gershon also has the chance to do the same, something than only the late Aleksandar Gomelsky has accomplished. Maccabi will play in its seventh Euroleague final, while Tau settles for a spot in the third place game for the first time in club history. Maccabi already led 51-32 at halftime and boosted its margin to 77-48 early in the final period, enough to seal the win. Anthony Parker had all his 19 points in the first half, Nikola Vujcic added 16 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists while Tal Burstein had 12 points for Maccabi. Luis Scola led Tau Ceramica with 17 points, Travis Hansen had 15 while Serkan Erdogan and Kornel David each added 12. In addition to clinching a spot in the final, Maccabi advanced to the first annual NBA Europe Live tournament in Cologne, Germany next October.

Maccabi won the tip and scored first after just 18 seconds on a Baston layup, which Scola matched on the other end with a put-back for a 2-2 tie. Vujcic scored in the paint, but Hansen tied the game again with a mid-range jumper. Both teams had started the game with man-to-man defense with different frontcourt pairings, as Scola took Vujcic in defense and Baston faced the Tau superstar in the other end. Vujcic fed Will Solomon for a layup, then had a big block on Scola, before finding Parker for a big triple from the top of the key. Tau struggled on both ends and Maccabi made the most of it. Solomon fired in a long jumper and then Parker ran the break for a three-point play, which capped a 10-0 run and gave Maccabi a 14-4 lead midway through the opening quarter. Tau called timeout and it proved to help as Tiago Splitter scored on a put-back to end a three-plus minute drought. Then Hansen added a three from the corner, but Parker answered from downtown to keep Maccabi ahead, 17-8. Scola scored around the basket and Erdogan, who had replaced Casey Jacobsen, shined with a driving layup-plus-foul to keep Tau close at 17-14. Vujcic came to the rescue with a big three-pointer and then fed Tal Burstein to extend Maccabi's lead to 22-14. Hansen nailed his second triple, but a left-handed layup by Jamie Arnold allowed Maccabi to keep a 24-17 lead after 10 minutes.

Erdogan found Scola for an uncontested layup early in the second quarter, while Maccabi, now without Parker on court, had trouble scoring. Erdogan kept pacing Tau with a catch-and-shoot triple which made it a two-point game, 24-22. Parker immediately returned to the floor, while Tau coach Velimir Perasovic opted to rest Scola. Vujcic took over with his second three-pointer, which Parker followed with a layup-plus-foul. Maccabi improved its defense and went after every ball. On the other end, Solomon slashed for another three-point play which capped a 9-0 run and extended Maccabi's lead to 33-22. Kornel David worked hard to score inside, but Parker immediately matched it with a layup and Baston copied him for a 13-point Maccabi lead, 37-24. Tau kept looking for Scola and David inside, but Maccabi played with much more intensity and coach Perasovic again called timeout. Tau went back to its starting lineup, but still could not find an answers on offense, while Maccabi continued attacking the basket and scoring. Free throws by Baston and Arnold gave Maccabi its biggest lead so far, 42-26, as Splitter went back to the bench with a forearm injury. David hit two foul shots, but Baston erased them with a long jumper and the ever-present Parker made a few more free throws to boost the reigning champs' lead to 46-28. Sergi Vidal tried to change things with a fast break layup and some more sloppy Maccabi play on offense gave Hansen a chance to throw down a two-handed slam, but Maccabi was now on fire, as Parker buried a corner three for his 19th point and a 19-point halftime margin, 51-32.

Vujcic opened the second half with a tough layup and then Burstein fired in a five-meter jumper that put Maccabi up by 23 points, 55-32. Predrag Drobnjak tried to ignite a Tau comeback with a pull-up jumper, but Maccabi thrilled its traveling support as Vujcic set Baston up for a two-handed alley-oop dunk and Solomon soon added a fast break layup for a 59-34 Maccabi margin. Hansen fired in a triple as Tau tried to use short possessions, which fit the run-and-gun Maccabi style. Baston again took on the entertainer role with a rare three, while Erdogan and Pablo Prigioni missed from downtown on the other end. Maccabi remained focused as Burstein beat the buzzer with a driving layup, forcing Tau to call a much-needed timeout. Maccabi rode Burstein's hot hand as the swingman canned a six-meter jumper and Baston dunked it to cap a game-breaking 26-5 run. Roko-Leni Ukic hit a jumper but Baston bettered him with a triple that hit the rim, went up and fell down. Scola stepped up with back-to-back layups, but Vujcic banked a jumper for a 30-point Maccabi lead, 73-43. Tau continued trying to take quick shots without success until Hansen buried a three-pointer. Scola scored again around the basket, but the outcome was already clear, 73-48, at the end of the third quarter.

Tau tried to please its fans in the final period, but Maccabi seemed to be on another level, almost like the 2004 Euroleague final against Skipper Bologna, dominating every aspect of the game. Baston drilled another jumper while Burstein scored in transition to restore a 77-48 Maccabi lead. Tau now had only its pride to play for as the Maccabi fans on hand had already started to celebrate. Vujcic banked in another shot before David threw in a long jumper. Erdogan nailed a three-pointer, but it was looking to be too little, too late for Tau. David hit a jumper while Ukic capped a 0-9 run which brought Tau within 79-59 midway through the final period. Burstein nailed another shot and Arnold scored twice near the basket to give Maccabi a 85-63 lead with two minutes to go. Everything was said and done at that point, as Maccabi had made it to the Euroleague final!

Friday, April 28, 2006
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Attendance: 16805
By Quarter1234
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv24272212
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz17151622
End of Quarter1234
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv24517385
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz17324870
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 FANAN, REGEV DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5 BASTON, MACEO 28:00 20 6/8 2/2 2/2 1 6 7   1 3 6   2 5 32
6 SHARP, DERRICK 16:45     0/4         1         3   -6
7 VUJCIC, NIKOLA 31:45 16 4/6 2/2 2/2 1 7 8 7 2 3 2   3 3 30
8 PARKER, ANTHONY 30:45 19 3/8 3/4 4/4   4 4 4 1 2     2 4 22
10 BURSTEIN, TAL 30:15 12 6/9       1 1 1 2 2   1 3 1 8
11 SHASON, SHARON 5:15         1 1 2               2
14 CASSPI, OMRI DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
15 SOLOMON, WILLIE 33:00 9 4/7 0/5 1/1   4 4 2 3 1     2 5 12
20 PENNEY, KIRK 9:15     0/2     1 1           1   -2
23 ARNOLD, JAMIE 12:00 9 3/4   3/4 2 2 4 1     1 1 2 2 12
41 GREEN, YANIV 3:00                         1   -1
Team           1 1 2   1           3
Totals 200:00 85 26/42 7/19 12/13 6 27 33 16 10 11 9 2 19 20 112
        61.9% 36.8% 92.3%
Head coach: GERSHON, PINI
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 SCOLA, LUIS 39:00 17 8/15   1/4 7 4 11 5 1 2   1 4 9 26
5 PRIGIONI, PABLO 21:00   0/1 0/3         1   3   1 2 2 -7
6 HANSEN, TRAVIS 28:15 15 3/8 3/7   3 4 7 2 2 2   1 3   11
7 CHALMERS, LIONEL DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9 VIDAL, SERGI 12:30 2 1/3 0/1     2 2   1 1       1 2
10 UKIC, ROKO 19:00 8 4/7 0/3         2   1     2   1
11 ERDOGAN, SERKAN 21:00 12 1/4 3/5 1/1   2 2 1   2   1 1 1 7
14 DROBNJAK, PREDRAG 9:00 2 1/2 0/1   1 1 2           1 1 2
15 GRIMAU, JORDI DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
18 DAVID, KORNEL 20:15 12 4/8   4/4 3 7 10     1 1 3 3 3 15
21 SPLITTER, TIAGO 11:45 2 1/2     2 1 3     1   1 2 1 1
23 JACOBSEN, CASEY 18:15   0/2     1 1 2       1 1 2 1 -1
Team             1 1               1
Totals 200:00 70 23/52 6/20 6/9 17 23 40 11 4 13 2 9 20 19 58
        44.2% 30% 66.7%
This game is not yet played

Head Coaches

Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
“There are no easy games before the game starts. I thought it would be hard, but we had a great start. I think that the warm-up before the game was part of the game tonight. After that we found the tempo of the game while we also put all our experience on the floor. We are happy, but we are also tired. We lost energy, but that doesn’t matter. Tau is a great team, they made a long way to here. I was worried about some things because I saw many games of Tau, I think they can play better. I know it won't be easy on Sunday because both CSKA and Barcelona are great teams and I know it won't be as easy as tonight. I'm happy now and I'll be happier if we can win the cup. Tau was the toughest competition that we faced this season and we played one of our best games. Solomon played excellent. It's not easy to stop Prigioni. For me, Solomon had a great game because to stop Prigioni is also to stop their bog guys. I've had three great point guards here – Arriel McDonald, Saras and Will Solomon – but there's only one Anthony Parker. He's the reason we're all here. He comes to play at every practice and never complains. He's a great player, a great person, he's everything.”
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
"They went right over us, physically as much as anything else. In no moment were we able to compete with them. I think their accuracy was tremendous in the first quarter. After that the difference kept growing against us and we got out of the game mentally although we were able to cut some points off the difference at the end. We didn't take advantage of some situations early in the game, and Maccabi once it had the lead showed itself to have the experience and the know-how to play as they wanted to the rest of the way. I think that the team has shown during the Euroleague that it can compete against the best teams in Europe as it is a shame, because we were not a worthy opponent. The team never felt comfortable on court, we didn't know how to work against their automatic switches, how to damage their powerful, physical game and above all, how to stop their transition and fast break baskets. We had troubles to play our game and when we struggled to score and you see that the other team is doing better every minute, our answer was the worst possible, we sank even more instead of stepping up like we usually do. It hurts a lot, because a lot of people travelled to see us in this Final Four and we surrendered very easily. I am sure that Maccabi did not expect such an easy win either. We will try to finish third and show we can play better basketball. We created a lot of expectations after winning Panathinaikos on its own court and this loss hurts a lot, but we have to recover as early as we can."


Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
"People look at the final score and think it was an easy game, but it wasn't an easy one at all. We made it look easy by working very very hard, make many substituation and do whatever we can to beat Tau. The first time when I saw so many Yellow fans, back in Paris 2001, I had goose bumps, and since then it just keeps happening again and again, in Tel Aviv, Moscow and now in Prague. The fans are amazing. I'm trying to do whatever the team needs me to do. Sometimes it's rebounds, sometimes it's assists, points or playmaking, but everybody played great today. I tried to take what the defense gave me, and the first balls that went in gave me confidence."
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
"We opened the game in an amazing way. We prepared very good for the game and from the first moment didn't stop. We expected a tough game, but we made it easy. It doesn't matter who will play with us in the finals. It'll be a tough game anyways, because both teams are very good. The fans were amazing once again."
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
"We played great defense today, gave them a hard time to shoot the ball, and did exactly the things we practiced on. We also played great in offense. The fans were amazing once again. What they did in front of our hotel last night gave us a lot of energy. When we step on the court in such event it gives us a lot of energy. We played with great intensity, and it wasn't an easy game at all. My entire body aches."
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
“This is what happens when it all comes together. We know what we can do when we play offense and defense. Tonight the shots were falling. We go through some adversity through out the season, but continued to believe in ourselves. Now we gotta stay focused. We gotta be ready from the bus ride over like we were tonight.”
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
“We didn't expect it to be this easy, but we came out focused and aggressive. We set the tempo, built a 20-point lead and rolled from there. We prepared for this all year. You need to be focused and prepared 100 percent. Now we need to see who we play in the final and do the same things we did to prepare for Tau.”
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
“The fans were amazing once more tonight, they pushed us all the way to the win. Like many people say, defense is the best offense, we played good defense and got easy baskets and wecould build a good lead from the beginning. Playing the best games of the season when it counts the most is what you have to do. When the game and the season is on the line you have to step up. It cannot go further than this.”
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
"Maccabi were great and we can only congratulate them for their qualification to the finals. I hope they'll enjoy it there. They certainly deserve that. I have big respect for this team. Any team can win in the finals. There's no one clear favorite. "
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
“I think they defend great. They change in all screens and it is difficult to follow that flow of the game. I think we lacked the patience you normally need in those situations, maybe because of their pressure and then in offense they were accurate. All their shots went in. It’s not easy to go through this, but we have been through worse situations. We have to be satisfied about having reached this level and having lost to a great team.”
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
“It’s a great to be in the Final Four but this game was very bad. Maccabi used their great experience. They started hard and tough, now we have to move on and forget about this loss as soon as possible. Baston, Parker have controlled the game perfectly.”
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
“They play hard defense. There’s nothing to say. We could have won this game, but they were better tonight.”
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
“They are maybe the best defensive team in Europe, even Baston scored three-pointers. Parker played an amazing game, also did Burstein. It’s very hard to play against Maccabi. We didn’t play our game, it was very tough to play this game. We couldn’t score. When you play against Maccabi you have to be concentrated all game long, because when you get distracted they pull away in no time. ”
Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz
“They shot very well, and we couldn’t stop them penetrating and getting easy baskets. They are good players and we knew that. They played great one-on-one, and also defense. We also shot poorly tonight. It can happen but it’s sad it had to be in this game. They were aggressive from the start as they fed off the energy of the fans. We wanted to win we had worked hard for this all season. But it’s hard to play when you are down by 10-15 points.”
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