41% of households watch Mac. TA clinch Euroleague final

02/05/2004 By Arie Livnat, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service Some 41 percent of Israeli households watched Maccabi Tel Aviv clinch its fourth European title Saturday as the team crushed Italian rival Skipper Bologna in the final of basketball’s Euroleague championships. The second half of the game caught the attention of nearly half – 46.8 percent – of the households in the country, who tuned into Channel One at 11:25 Saturday night. The number of championship-watching households came to 698,000. Meanwhile, some 100,000 Maccabi Tel Aviv fans celebrated the team’s victory all night Saturday in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park, Army Radio reported Sunday. About 10,000 spectators, most of them Maccabi fans, watched from the stands at the Nokia Arena, with chants and songs through the game. Maccabi Tel Aviv overwhelmingly beat Italian team Skipper Bologna with a final score of 118-74 at the Nokia Arena (Yad Eliyahu) in Tel Aviv. Maccabi’s offense and defense overwhelmed their rivals from the beginning, with quick ball movement leading to open shots and dunks, while a switching defense stifled the Italians. The referees played a prominent role in the first half, whistling foul after foul that put players on both teams in early trouble. Maccabi raced to a 31-13 lead at the end of the first quarter, capped by a last-second three-point shot by Los Angeles-born forward David Bluthenthal. At halftime the score was 55-30. American professional Anthony Parker led Maccabi with 21 points, and Bluthenthal added 20. Milos Vujanic led the Italian team with 20 points. In an earlier game, CSKA Moscow rallied in the Euroleague Final Four to defeat Italy’s Montepaschi Siena 97-94 for third place, with point guard Marcus Brown leading the way with 27 points.

Derrick Sharp, a Tel Aviv guard, told Channel 1 after the game, „This was the fun game. The hard part was to get here. This is the icing on the cake.” The victory brings Maccabi its fourth Euroleague cup, following previous wins in 1977, 1981 and 2001. Maccabi defeats CSKA Moscow 93-85 Maccabi survived a shaky start Thursday night to defeat CSKA Moscow 93-85 and win a chance to meet Skipper Bologna in the Final Four championship game. Bologna gained a ticket to the final game with a closely fought 103-102 over Italian rival Montepaschi Siena earlier in the evening. In its most important game of the season, Maccabi demonstrated sound basketball fundamentals and strong defense to overcome an early 11-point deficit. Maccabi, playing before an excited home crowd at Nokia Arena, controlled the borders and converted 12 offensive rebounds for 14 points. Maccabi also stole the ball from the Russian team 12 times, but did not take full advantage of these quick hands, missing some easy shots. Maccabi didn’t let up after CSKA surged to a 34-23 lead after the first 13 minutes. Coach Pini Gershon made efficient use of his bench, while CKSA coach Dusan Ivcovic left Marcus Brown on the court too long, allowing him to rack up his third foul early in the second half. While Maccabi’s substitutes contributed just 18 points and 6 rebounds, these came at crucial times. David Bluthenthal (4 of 4 from the field) picked Maccabi up twice and Gur Shelef helped the team move the ball, as well as making some wise fouls. Anthony Parker was Maccabi’s offensive leader, especially during the first half. He finished the game with 27 points, including a pair of alley-oop dunks in the third quarter that ignited the crowd. Coming back from halftime one point down, Maccabi opened up a seven-point lead by the end of the third quarter and maintained at least a five-point advantage for the rest of the game. Tal Burstein’s three-pointer with 2:30 gave Maccabi a comfortable 12-point lead, 80-68, and effectively put the game out of reach. Sarunas Jasikevicius scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half and played a smart game, handing out six assists and stealing the ball seven times. He was steady at the foul line, pouring in 10 points of his 18 points after being fouled. Nikola Vujcic added 14 more for Maccabi and Maceo Baston recorded a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. Marcus Brown was top scorer for CSKA with 23; J.R. Holden added 16, Victor Alexander 12 and Sergei Monya 10. Mirsad Turkcan also had a double-double, with 10 points and 10 rebounds for CSKA.