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Maccabi's Baston and Tau's Hansen
Photo: AP
Maccabi pounds Spaniards 85-70
Going for three-peat: Unstoppable European champs beat Tau Vitoria in semifinal
PRAGUE – Yellow machine unstoppable: Israeli and European champion Maccabi Tel Aviv pounded Spanish Tau Vitoria 85-70 in Friday evening's Euroleague semifinal, inching closer to winning the European basketball championship a third year in a row.

 

The talented Tau Vitoria, which lost to Maccabi in last year's final, looked confused throughout the game, while Maccabi's iron defense and some impressive shooting pushed the Israeli team to a huge victory.

 

Maccabi's overwhelming display was complemented by thousands of raucous Israeli fans who traveled with the team and painted the state-of-the-art Sazka Arena in Prague yellow, pushing Maccabi forward the whole game and giving the team a sense of playing on its home court.

 

The Israeli powerhouse opened strong, with forward Maceo Baston getting the fans going with the game's first basket. The European champ took advantage of some turnovers, opening up a 14-4 lead. Vitoria narrowed the gap to 14-8 following a timeout, but Anthony Parker, who shined throughout the game, quickly responded with a three-pointer, en route to a 24-17 first quarter lead.


Maccabi's Anthony Parker driving past Tau's Travis Hansen (Photo: AP)

 

The Spaniards opened strong in the second quarter, quickly narrowing the lead to two, 24-22, but the unstoppable Parker was on fire, allowing Maccabi to open up a commanding 46-28 lead. By halftime the game was virtually over, with Maccabi boasting a 51-32 lead.

 

Standing ovation for Parker

 

The European champions continued their incredible performance in the third quarter, quickly pushing their lead above the 20-point mark.
Tau Vitoria failed to get back into the game with irresponsible three-point attempts, while on the other end Baston got into the action with uncharacteristic two three-pointers. Maccabi opened up a 68-37 lead, finishing the quarter up 73-48.

 

By the fourth quarter, Maccabi coach Pini Gershon was able to give his stars a rest, allowing the Spaniards to cut the lead. Two minutes before the game's end, Anthony Parker received a standing ovation from the appreciative yellow crowd in the stands, capping an amazing night.

 

On Sunday, Maccabi will face Russian CSKA Moscow which beat Spanish Barcelona in the other semifinal, as it prepares for the opportunity to make history in the final by winning a third straight championship.

 

Maccabi was led by Baston with 20 points, Parker with 19, Nikola Vujcic with 16, and Tal Burstein with 12.

 


First published: 28.04.06, 20:37
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