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The Toast of Tel Aviv

In what could only be described as an annihilation, the pride of Israel – Maccabi Tel Aviv – last night won the Euroleague basketball championship, defeating Italian side Skipper Bologna 118-74.

This comes a little over two weeks after another Israeli club, Hapoel Jerusalem, won Europe’s ULEB Cup.

At the time that Hapoel Jerusalem won, I mentioned the fact that the victory was particularly sweet since they defeated a Spanish team, a few weeks after another Spanish team forfeited their Euroleague game rather than fly to Israel. In similiar fashion, it fills me with great joy that we defeated Skipper Bologna, given that its fan club boycotted the Final Four.

But back to the game, which Maccabi won in such emphatic fashion. Here is how the Euroleague site describes it:

It’s time to paint the basketballs yellow instead of orange! The Euroleague has a new champion tonight after Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Skipper Bologna 118-74 in a record-breaking show never before seen in European basketball. Maccabi won with the most points by the biggest difference ever, going back almost 50 years since the start of European pro basketball. Maccabi’s spectacular blowout punctuated a season that has lifted European basketball to new and greater heights. Before one of the most euphoric crowds in basketball history, Maccabi made a dream of the entire country of Israel come true without any bit of suspense. From the opening tap, Maccabi ruled its home floor at Nokia Arena, soaring to a 25-point halftime lead and never looking back. It marked the fourth time that Maccabi has lifted a cup as a continental champion. Though it had a home crowd of 10,458 was fully behind it, Maccabi took nothing for granted. Its 55 first-half points was a record in the Final Four era, and it’s defense was just as impressive. By the middle of the third quarter, it was showtime, as the Final MVP, Anthony Parker, rocked the rim with reverse dunks and Sarunas Jasikevicius dropped triples. The party had long since begun in the stands, and the celebration will not stop anytime soon. Maccabi is champion of Europe, and there was no doubt about it!

It gets even better. How about this quote from Tunji Awojobi, Euroleague.net’s courtside analyst:

“This is an historic night. From the beginning, Maccabi has been running and going. The moment Skipper started to play the same game as Maccabi, it was over. This atmosphere is unbelievable. This has to be one of the best days ever in basketball. Not just in Europe. The NCAA, the NBA doesn’t get close to the atmosphere here tonight. You gotta love this. I can’t say how happy I am to see this, and be here. I feel happy to have been here and been a part of it. I feel like I saw basketball history being made tonight!.”

Besides the game itself and the wonderful performances of our players, the highlights of the night for me were as follows:

1. Maccabi captian Gur Shelef asking Derrick Sharp to join him on the podium in receiving the trophy. Although Sharp only scored 9 points on the night, it was his miracle shot that catapulted Maccabi into the Final Four. After Sharp joined Shelef on the podium, Shelef said in Hebrew something along the lines of “They say ‘I want to be like Mike’ but I say ‘I want to be like Derrik.'”

2. The crowd singing “Europe is yellow” while Shelef lifted the championship trophy. They were of course referring to the Maccabi club colors, but the allusion to European cowardice is not lost on me.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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