Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv
A signature team in European basketball, six-time champ Maccabi enters every season aiming for greatness. Over the years, Maccabi has relied on the tried-and-true formula of complementing the best Israeli players with talented, committed stars from abroad. Stars like Tal Brody, Miki Berkowitz, Motti Aroesti, Kevin Magee, Doron Jamchy, Earl Williams, Aulcie Perry, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Anthony Parker and Nikola Vujcic belong to the elite of all-time European basketball greats, helping to maintain the team’s position as a perennial powerhouse. Maccabi won its first EuroLeague title in 1977 and did so again in 1981 with Berkowitz excelling. There was a wait until 2001 to lift the SuproLeague trophy, which broke a string of five continental final appearances that ended the wrong way. The next title came soon after, in 2004. The next year Maccabi became the first team to repeat as EuroLeague champion since Split in 1991. Jasikevicius, Parker, Tal Burstein, Maceo Baston and Vujcic, coached by Pini Gershon, became a classic lineup in European basketball history, defeating Baskonia in the title game in Moscow. Maccabi got back to the EuroLeague Championship Game for the third year in a row in 2006, but CSKA stood in the way of a three-peat, and the Russia club again triumphed in the 2008 title decider. A rebuilt Maccabi returned to the Final Four in 2011, when it got past Real Madrid in the semifinal but lost to Panathinaikos in the Championship Game. A David Blatt-coached yellow-and-blue brought more glory in 2013-14 with several dramatic late-season wins to climb to the top of Europe, overcoming CSKA Moscow in the semifinals and Real Madrid after overtime in a classic Championship Game. The team struggled to meet its normal standards in the seasons that followed, failing to even make the EuroLeague playoffs since 2015. But the passion and high expectations of the fans remains intact, and Maccabi’s return to glory is surely just a matter of time.