Nokia Arena, visitors:
If there is one team in Europe that disproves the theory that only the strongest local competitions produce continental giants, it is Maccabi Tel Aviv. Maccabi goes relatively unchallenged at home in the Israeli League, where it has won 43 of a possible 49 titles since 1954, in addition to 33 Israeli Cup trophies. But dominance at home does nothing to mitigate Maccabi's power abroad, where it has won three European club titles and has finished second six other times. Its first European crown, in 1977, put Maccabi on the basketball map to stay. Its second, in 1981, was all the extra proof anyone needed. With the exception of 1993-94, the year following its only recent loss of the Israeli League title, Maccabi has been a constant presence in the competition for top European honors. A formula of complementing the best Israeli players with the most select players from abroad keeps working for Maccabi. A Suproleague title in 2001, Maccabi's first in Europe since 1981, assured what had been a given in modern European basketball: that the pride of Israel will always be in the hunt when the European club championship is decided. 2001-02 was no different, as Maccabi rallied heroically to reach the Final Four in Bologna, falling short in the semifinals against its new rival and eventual champion Panathinaikos. Last year, Maccabi played one of the toughest schedule in Europe, travelling all over Europe weekly, and came within a few points of a Final Four birth despite fielding one of its youngest teams. The club had to overcome the loss of homecourt advantage, as it was forced to play home games in Greece due to war in the Middle East, yet came within a buzzer-beater of upending Benetton for a spot among the top four in Barcelona. Maccabi rebounded, though, bringing satisfaction to its enormous body of fans when it won its 43rd Israeli league title. For 2003-04 Maccabi is once again positioned as one of the giants in Europe. Aiming for the top is nothing new for the Israeli club: Maccabi never settles for less.
1977, 1981, 2004, 2005