Parker, Jasikevicius - Maccabi Elite - FF Moscow 2005Maccabi Tel Aviv has won it all again! Maccabi became the first team to win consecutive Euroleague titles since 1991 by downing Tau Ceramica 90-78 in the Euroleague Final in front of a sellout crowd of 13,500 in the Olympiyski Arena, Moscow on Sunday night. Maccabi keeps the Euroleague title for the first time since Split won three in a row from 1989 to 1991. Sarunas Jasikevicius led the winners in yet another unforgottable perfomance: 22 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, enough to be voted the MVP of the final. Maceo Baston added 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting, Nestoras Kommatos became a main factor with 13 points off the bench, Nikola Vujcic also had 13 and 7 assists while Anthony Parker added 12 for the back-to-back Euroleague champion. Luis Scola led Tau with 21 points and 9 rebounds, Jose Manuel Calderon added 16 while Arvydas Macijauskas and Travis Hansen each had 13. Maccabi had a strong first half in which Kommatos had all his 13 points to make his team led 50-39 with Baston and Jasikevicius also in double digits by that time. Scola, Calderon and Hansen led the comeback, helping Tau to cut its deficit to 62-60 late in the third. It all came down to the final 5 minutes in which Baston and above all Jasikevicius fueled a game-breaking 7-0 run in crunch time which sealed the outcome, sending no less than 7,000 yellow fans in the stand to celebrate their team's fourth top continental title! Maccabi lifted the Euroleague trophy in 1977 and 1981 before doing it again last season in Tel Aviv. The team also won a SuproLeague title in 2001, as well as reaching six other finals. Jasikevicius became the first player to win three consecutive Euroleague titles since five Split players did it between 1989 and 1991, while coach Pini Gershon won his third consecutive continental title with Maccabi.

Nikola Vujcic - Maccabi Elite - FF Moscow 2005Nikola Vujcic grew up in Croatia not far from Split and as a child watched that club's great dynasty as Toni Kukoc, Dino Radja and co. won three straight Euroleague crowns. After playing a major role in Maccabi Tel Aviv's Euroleague title in 2004, he was motivated for another the next season. With almost the same team back from the previous season, Vujcic joined co-stars Anthony Parker and Sarunas Jasikevicius to create one of the most devastating attacks European basketball has ever seen. Maccabi started the season red-hot, topping the 100-point mark three times in the first five games – including a 50-point win against Scavolini – and then finished in style, winning 10 in a row to finish the season. Vujcic was at the center of it all, both literally and figuratively, winning All-Euroleague first team honors for the first time. The much anticipated matchup that season was to be between Maccabi and CSKA Moscow at the Final Four in the Russian capital. But Tau Ceramica killed that idea by upsetting CSKA in the semifinal and Maccabi knocked off Tau in the final to complete its mission as back-to-back champs.

Maccabi ended the previous season with a record-breaking final victory, but needed some high-wire finishes just to reach the Final Four. Going into the new 2004-05 season with basically the same team, was there a feeling of invincibility from the title game still or uncertainty while looking back, for instance, at Derrick's season-saving shot?

"Being the champs was a great feeling. It was exciting coming back with the same team and to try and get two in a row. We were much more confident that season because we had already been there – we won a championship. Of course everyone wanted to beat us, but we came back even more focused."

Was the possibility of repeating as champs, which no team had done in 14 years before that – since the Split dynasty of your childhood – a subject of discussion between the players or was it more taboo?

"We spoke about it. We wanted to be a part of history. Why not? We had a great team and we played much better that year. It was our goal."

What effect did CSKA making a record start of 17-0 that season, plus the Final Four being in Moscow, have on perceptions of the Euroleague's balance of power as the season went along? Did you expect to meet up with them eventually in a do-or-die situation?

"We expected to meet CSKA at some point. We didn't play them in the regular season and saw how they went undefeated. But Tau beat them and we ended up not playing against them at all."

Several Maccabi players spoke of feeling much less pressure going to Moscow as compared to the previous season. How about you? Was less pressure a factor in how well you guys played?

"I can't really say. There is always more pressure at home, because you really want to win there. But for us it was no different. We didn't feel any extra pressure because we had already won the year before. We had the same players back and we knew what to do."

What are the highlights in your memory of the Final Four itself?

"I was really impressed by the number of Maccabi fans in Moscow. It was unbelievable to see 10,000 fans come all the way from Israel to support us. That's the thing I remember best."