On This Day, 2006: Maccabi, CSKA advance to championship game

Apr 28, 2020 by Euroleague.net Print
On This Day, 2006: Maccabi, CSKA advance to championship game

Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv reached the 2006 EuroLeague Final Four with the chance to become the third win to win three consecutive continental crowns. Maccabi had lifted the EuroLeague trophy in 2004 and 2005 and was looking to join ASK Riga (1958-60) and Split (1989-91) in the three-peat club. Maccabi downed Olympiacos Piraeus in the 2006 playoffs, in one of the three series that needed a do-or-die Game 3 to find out the winner. Winterthur FC Barcelona and Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz defeated Real Madrid and Panathinaikos Athens, respectively, in Game 3s, too. CSKA Moscow swept its series against Efes Pilsen to punch its ticket to Sazka Arena in Prague, the Czech Republic, home of the 2006 Final Four.

Baston stops Tau

Maccabi and Tau faced each other in the first semifinal. It was a rematch of the 2005 EuroLeague championship game and the teams' first showdown since. Maccabi gave Tau no chance, taking a 24-17 lead after 10 minutes and extending it to 51-32 at halftime and then to 73-48 at the end of the third quarter to seal the outcome early. Maceo Baston was outstanding at both ends of the floor, finishing the game with 20 points on 6-of-8 two-point shooting, 2-of-2 from downtown and 2-of-2 from the foul line. He added 7 rebounds and 6 blocked shots to set a Final Four record that still stands. His PIR of 32 is still the third-best by a Maccabi player in Final Four action, after Anthony Parker (34 in the 2004 championship game) and Chuck Eidson (33 in the 2011 semifinals).

CSKA rallies past Barcelona

Barcelona and CSKA met in the EuroLeague semifinals three years after their previous Final Four showdown at this very same stage. Shammond Williams and Juan Carlos Navarro combined for 14 first-quarter points for a 20-15 Barcelona lead. Gianluca Basile struck from downtown to make it a double-digit game, 28-17, soon after that. CSKA managed to get within 38-34 at halftime. Barcelona surged once more to lead 45-34 before J.R. Holden rescued CSKA with back-to-back three-pointers and then Theo Papaloukas led a 0-13 run which gave CSKA the lead for good, 50-55. Barcelona managed to get within 72-75 with a minute left, but Trajan Langdon and Matjaz Smodis sealed the outcome from the foul line.

About the games

CSKA won 75-84 and made it to the EuroLeague championship game for the first time in 33 years. Papaloukas and Holden led the winners each with 19 points. Smodis had 17 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double while Langdon had 13 for CSKA. Williams led Barcelona with 24 points, Bootsy Thornton scored 15 off the bench and Juan Carlos Navarro added 10. Maccabi ended up winning 85-70. Added to Baston's stronger numbers, Parker posted 19 points, Nikola Vujcic had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists while Tal Burstein scored 12 for Maccabi. Luis Scola led Tau with 17 points and 11 rebounds and Travis Hansen added 15 points, while Kornel David and Serkan Erdogan each had 12 for the Spanish powerhouse. Maccabi made 26 of 42 two-point shots (61.5%) and limited Tau to just 23-of-52 shooting inside the arc (44.2%).

What happened next

CSKA and Maccabi faced each other in the 2006 EuroLeague championship game. It was their first showdown since the 2004 EuroLeague semifinals, which added even more anticipation to this historic game. CSKA beat Maccabi 73-69 to lift the EuroLeague trophy for the first time since 1971. Papaloukas led CSKA with 18 points and 7 assists off the bench to earn Final Four MVP honors. David Vanterpool added 16 points and Smodis had 12. Willie Solomon led Maccabi with 20 points. The same teams would meet in another EuroLeague championship game in 2008 and CSKA would beat Maccabi again, 77-91 in Madrid, Spain. Only one other team, Olympiacos Piraeus (2012, 2013), has been able to win back-to-back EuroLeague titles since Maccabi did so.