Two years ago I was at a game at Palacio Vistalegre; it was the first Euroleague game I had ever attended in person. Special stuff, and all that.
Real Madrid had a lead on the visitors, Maccabi, well into the second half (as I recall at least; I was pretty slammed off of San Miguel’s non-alcoholic, apple-flavored brew). Then Maccabi got a few easy buckets, a couple of big stops and some calls in their favor that were controversial enough to bring out the riot police.
Maccabi won that game 66-64, and first place in their Top 16 group to boot. Conventional wisdom was You win the group, you avoid Barcelona. This was going through Chuck Eidson and Doron Perkins’ heads at the time, I’m sure, as they danced around wildly, celebrating their conquest.
But what they didn’t realize is that Partizan was waiting on the other side of that draw. But believe you me, the Boys in Black made it perfectly clear that they were nobody’s practice girl. It took Partizan four tries to win three, and they sent Maccabi back to Tel Aviv as all of Belgrade looked ahead to the Final Four in Paris.
They link up again tomorrow. Should be another classic. That game plus six more, previewed and predictionalized below.