Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv won the last game of the Top 16 in a great and intense game in Madrid against the host team Real Madrid. Maccabi was down with as much as 16 points but turned the game around with a great (!) fourth quarter, 30-19 to the Israeli team. It was a game where Maccabi had trouble to keep up with the high-speed game of Real and in the first half Real had a 29-13 lead and a second place in the Top16 group seemed to be the only option for Maccabi… which would mean to face Barcelona in the Quarterfinal series.
But….. Maccabi turned the game around in the same way as they did at home last week against Siena. They got closer and closer and when David Bluthental nailed a long 3pointer the difference was only 6 points, 47-41. Maccabi through Perkins to Lasme with a beautiful alley-hoop, that reminded me about last weeks alley-hoop in crunch time when Anderson found Fischer for the throw-down, meant a one possession game. Maccabi defense and another even longer 3pointer sealed the game to 55-55.
Lasme, one of my favourite players grabbed the rebound and dunked in 57-57 and he did the same again to make it 59-59 but this time with a bonus free throw, although he missed that one. A beautiful layup from Llull gave Real the lead, 61-59, but in the next offense for Maccabi with great ball movement gave Eidson an open 3p in the corner and the lead taken, 61-62! Real missed and then fouled Eidson who nailed them both, 61-64. Good defense of Maccabi and almost a steal but the ball bounced to Hanson in the corner who made the 3p on the 24″ buzzer to even the game out, 64-64. Anderson got fouled in the next possession and made both free throws and Real missed their last offense and the loss for the Spanish team was a fact.
This was the second win for Maccabi Tel Aviv against Real Madrid in this year top 16. And it seems like Maccabi is a bad opponent for Real Madrid. Two years ago Maccabi won against Real Madrid in Madrid which meant Real Madrid lost the chance to qualify to the Final 4 they hosted in Madrid 2008. This year they still have the chance to make it to the Final 4, but they have to overcome Barcelona who they will face in a very tough Spanish Quarterfinal series. Maccabi Tel Aviv will face Partizan Belgrade where both teams have incredible crowds and fans. Maccabi has the home-team advantage and that could mean everything. The magic atmosphere in Nokia Arena is unbelievable which I had the chance to experience last week against Siena.