In an upset some are calling “history-making” while others (okay, Pini Gershon) grouse about the Israeli league playoff format, Galil/Gilboa pulled off the big upset away over Maccabi Tel Aviv, 90-77. This marked the second time in three years that Maccabi lost in the single-game final after having taken the previous 36 of 37 national titles.
More impressively, Galil/Gilboa thwarted the yellow side amidst this sort of support:
The team of relative unknowns and castoffs naturally produced a number of surprising heroes. The second-half attack in particular was led by Jeremy Pargo and clutch shooting from Dion Dowell, who ended with 15 points – all in the second 20 minutes. Brian Randle led all scorers with 19 points, shooting 8-of-13 on field goals.
And the homegrown product at power forward, Elishay Kadir, ruled over Maccabi’s more experienced frontcourt with 11 points all in the paint or from the free-throw line to go with six defensive rebounds and a big seven fouls drawn.
The Maccabi offense was described as “anemic,” “with the exception of forward Guy Pnini,” who went for 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting. The boxscore seems to bear this out, as the team shot an egregious 38% (25-of-65), while Gilil/Gilboa was an incredible 64.4% – a tight 29-of-45 – overall. Old reliables Doron Perkins and David Bluthenthal were precisely not that on this evening, managing 8-of-29 shooting combined, including a headache-inducing 2-of-10 from beyond the arc.
Chuck Eidson (12 points, nine rebounds, two steals) was particularly broken up after the loss, saying “I feel terrible; I don’t know where to begin talking about what’s going on with me.” Eidson went on to state that the loss when even more difficult than going down to Partizan Belgrade in the Euroleague quarterfinals. “It’s a sad day,” said Eidson, “we disappointed the fans, we failed ourselves…”
Andrew Wisniewski was just as saddened: “I waited for this all year and worked so hard to get to this moment. We led the league and we fought and one evening just shattered all my dreams.”
One evening, eh? Shattered, eh? Understandable that a lot of Maccabi folks would feel that way.
Reportedly, “Prior to the Final Four, Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Pini Gershon said the semifinal system was set up to thwart the perennial Israeli monolith.” Prophetic Gershon proved, for in a single “mediocre” offesnive performance, such a Goliath can easily go down. (Seriously, one has to wonder what kind of damage the Oklahoma City Thunder might’ve done in a single-game format this year.)
No game highlights are currently embeddable, but a couple of clips run here. Also, just for the heck of it, here’s a video of Dee Brown freestyling after last year’s championship win by Maccabi. It’s actually not bad.