One of the winningest franchises in European basketball, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv checks into Milan for its 12th Final Four appearance and first in three years since reaching the championship game in 2011.
The only team this season to win a playoff series without home-court advantage and the only team in Milan that did not participate at last season's Final Four, Maccabi has been battle tested all season long. The Israeli powerhouse proved to be a feisty bunch, playing more close games than any other team this season. Among those were two dramatic road victories that helped pave the way to this stage, with the last one an improbable playoff comeback that took place in Mediolanum Forum – on the exact same floor where European basketball's showcase event will take place.
Maccabi's journey to Milan featured a strong start and strong finish. Coach David Blatt's men pieced together a pair of four-game winning streaks to win regular season Group D, then started their Top 16 campaign with four consecutive victories to grab control of their destiny. Maccabi cruised towards a place in the playoffs despite a run of three defeats in four games. A key 92-94 road win at FC Bayern Munich in the penultimate round of the Top 16 allowed Maccabi to seal a place in the playoffs.
Facing EA7 Emporio Armani Milan in the best-of-five series, Game 1 turned out to be the key. Down 84-72 with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Maccabi stormed back behind the heroic efforts of Ricky Hickman and Tyrese Rice. Against all odds, they forced overtime before Maccabi pulled out a crucial 99-101 win. After a loss in Game 2, the series moved to a rocking Nokia Arena, where Maccabi raised its game to another level. The crowd and David Blu carried the team to a 75-63 win in Game 3, while a huge fourth quarter completed Maccabi's comeback in Game 4, clinching a Final Four berth with an 86-66 victory.
Following that impressive series, Maccabi returns to Milan, but with a different new goal in mind, a prize that Maccabi club last lifted in 2005 – the Euroleague trophy!