26 september, 2004
By Paul Bale
Maccabi Tel Aviv rocked the house with an impressive blowout demolishing Skipper Bologna 118-74 in front of 10,458 rabid fans. Maccabi set 10 individual records, scoring the most points, 118, in the history of continental finals dating back to the start of European basketball almost 50 years ago.
Maccabi Tel Aviv also tied a defensive record in an Euroleague final as Skipper was limited to 13 first-quarter points, while also setting a new record of the most points scored in the first half, 55.
Maccabi is the team who won a Euroleague Final with the biggest score difference in the end, 44 points, while also scoring the most field goals in a Final, 42.
A very impressive stat is assists in a Final with 31! Maccabi Tel Aviv shot the lights out setting records for the best percentage in two-point shooting with 74% ( 28 of 38 ), and beat the record in field-goal percentage, 69%. They also scored an incredible amount of points in a quarter with 38!
Maccabi Tel Aviv continued it’s dominance controlling the boards allowing only 22 rebounds to Skipper Bologna. Maccabi set another new record scoring 28 two-points shots in a single game. Up to 100,000 fans danced with joy as the whole of Israel celebrated with wild abandon as fans, players, coaches rejoiced with gleeful intent, making Maccabi Tel Aviv one of the most joyful places in the world at that moment…bringing back smiles to the faces of Israel.
The game was over before it started as Skipper was completely over whelmed right from the get go…before one of the most euphoric crowds in basketball history, Maccabi Tel Aviv played amazing team defense never allowing Skipper to find any continuity.
Anthony Parker led Maccabi with 21 points only missing 2 shots the entire game playing under control, showing everyone how athletic this young player is…flying reverse tomahawk two-hand dunks, effortless mid-range jumpers, and in the end handed MVP for his efforts.
David Bluthenthal released his jumper with the accuracy of a guided missile launcher scoring 20 points also only missing 2 shots all night! And in my opinion, the floor general, the undisputed leader, the best player on the floor, Sarunas Jasikevicius passed the rock with unselfishness, knocking in 4 long range bombs from downtown, and scoring 18 points in just 17 minutes of playing time, as foul trouble from some questionable calls, limited this superstar from even a better night.
Unsung heroes need to be recognized as Maccabi’s backup guard Tal Burstein registered a double-double, with 17 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes. Skipper could not keep up from the start, but their best player and NBA bound, Milos Vujanic, lead the way with a credible 21 points considering the overwhelming defense played by Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Gianluca Basile, normally a solid contributor, had a poor Final Four, only scoring 10 points, and had trouble finding his rhythm. Backup point guard sparkplug Gianmarco Pozzecco displayed his energy in both games and contributed consistently also scored 10 points for Skipper.
Carlos Defino was almost shut out the entire game, as NBA scouts watched with interest, Delfino’s NBA right’s are owned by the Detroit Pistons. Skipper’s big men were almost invisible all night, completely surrounded by Maccabi’s swarming D. I have never seen such a dominance in a Final game, Maccabi Tel Aviv Championship team 2003-04 might go down in the history of European basketball as the greatest team ever?
This Final Four was so enjoyable to watch that it’s important to mention the Semi-Final game between two Italian great teams…Montepaschi Siena lost to Skipper Bologna 102-103 in over-time! This game was so fascinating to watch, as both teams fought an incredible battle, with Skipper leading for the entire game, Siena came back from the dead to survive only to fall short in OT.
Carlos Delfino lead the way for Skipper with 27 points in 41 minutes of play, displaying a sweet school-yard game. His handle was tight attacking both the left side equally with the right, forcing Siena’s guard into foul trouble early in the game. Delfino also displayed a deft outside stroke bombing away at will, knocking down 5 three’s!
Matjaz Smodis helped out scoring 14 points, Hanno Mattola 12, A.J. Guyton added 11 with 3 bombs from long range, while super-sub Gianmarco Pozzecco had 10 points and a few important dimes. Montepaschi Siena was lead by an impressive performance from Bootsy Thornton leading the way with 26 hard fought points, while Greek superstar, Mikalis Kakiouzis dropped 23 points and a three-pointer as regulation time expired to sent the game into OT!
David Andersen displayed a nice medium-range series of jumpers adding 17 points, almost all the shots he received were passed from the amazing floor-leader “00V”, Vrbica Stefanov who scored 14 points and had 7 dimes. David Vanterpool, while having fouled out with 10 points, played well in limited time, and Mindaugas Zukauskas also had 10 in a reserve role.
The teams went at each other all game, each team familiar with each others style having played 4 times previously. Skipper had the lead the entire game until, Kakiouzis nailed another 3 to tie the game for the first time. Skipper switched to a 4 guard lineup and their big man Tomas Van Den Speigel, who wasn’t supposed to play because of injury, displayed fine movement for a man 7″2″.
But Siena dominated the boards and hyperactive Pozzecco, all over the place, was dropping dimes left and right to open shooters. At this point 9 players for Skipper had scored, and Siena’s back court suffering from quick foul calls from the referees, started to stumble. Siena called a timeout, and switched to a zone defense that seemed to work as they crawled back within a few points 62-64 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter started with both teams scoring at will, as Guyton and Stefenov exchanged bombs from downtown. With full intensity at both ends the game was tied again with 3 minutes to go in the game 81-81. Foul-shots were exchanged, three-pointers by both teams, none more important than with 11.2 seconds remaining in regulation “00V”, Stefenov with penetration found Kakiouzis in the corner and drilled his third three as the clock sounded sending the game into OT!
Skipper’s defense in OT was solid forcing Siena’s Vanterpool to foul out early, and also committing a 24-second violation. With 1:19 remaining in OT Skipper found their go to guy in Delfino who nailed another three…giving Skipper the lead 102-100. Bootsy Thornton drew a foul on Smodis with 17.5 seconds left and tied the game with 2 crucial foul-shots 102-102.
Kakiouzis fouled Delfino on a questionable choice forcing Delfino to go the foul line making the first while missing the second, enough to seal the win, Vujanic for Skipper was fouled with 0.9 seconds remaining made the first and missed the second on purpose as the clock sounded.
A great game! One of the best in the History! Overall an amazing weekend of hoops, what am I going to write about now? Oh yes! The Italian National Team is going to the Olympics in Athens this summer!
Ciao for now. Paul Bale.
“Hoops for the Soul…Players for Life!”