Playoff Series: Laboral vs. Maccabi

The two highest-scoring Turkish Airlines Euroleague teams this season, Caja Laboral of Spain and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv of Israel, promise a lot more than points when their Quarterfinal Playoffs series begins Tuesday. These teams know each other well, and not just because they split regular season victories earlier this season. Three Maccabi players spent last season in Spain, and forward Lior Eliyahu did so precisely with Caja Laboral. At the same time, Caja Laboral’s newest player, Esteban Batista, was a double-digit scorer for Maccabi’s last Final Four team, in 2008. These teams have also faced off twice before on Europe’s biggest stage, the Final Four. Maccabi won their 2005 Euroleague title game in Moscow and their semifinal a year later in Prague. Three current Maccabi players – captain Derrick Sharp, Tal Burstein and Yaniv Green – played for those teams, while current Caja Laboral head coach Dusko Ivanovic was on the sidelines for the first of those games. Back in 2002, in his first stint on Maccabi’s bench, head coach David Blatt won a showdown over Ivanovic’s team on the road to reach the Final Four in Bologna. This season, Maccabi’s worst loss came at the hands of Caja Laboral, 94-78 in the season opener for both teams. Likewise, Caja Laboral’s worst loss, 81-70, was dealt by Maccabi later in the regular season. With all that familiarity as a backdrop, expect an epic quarterfinals series between two of the Euroleague’s signature clubs. Read more here.