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The Raging Elite 3

Throughout the history of the EuroLeague only two clubs completed a three-peat, six won back to back, and of those six only three came close to a three-peat, this is the story of Maccabi's quest for eternal glory

25/10/2018
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The Raging Elite 3
They say everyone wants a piece of the champs, a title shot, just one opportunity not only to dethrone juggernauts but to also claim their spots for as long as possible, and so it goes the story of retaining your title gets harder and harder especially when you're gunning for one of the best ever achievements in EuroLeague basketball – a threepeat. 

Taking a short trip down memory lane is always fun as it remind us all that achievements were made, records were set and stories about them were always told for the purpose of honoring legacies but also for the purpose of striving for greatness not only so that records will be tied but for them to be broken – it goes without saying that everyone wants to be written down the pages of a glorious history. 

The quest for a threepeat was first completed in the late 50's with Rigas ASK (Latvia), it will take eight years until Real Madrid would go on a quest of their own having the chance at completing a threepeat of their own however the then back to back champs ended up falling one short as they lost their title in the finals against CSKA Moscow. 

In the early 70's Ignis Varese almost started climbing their stairway to the Olympus but also fell one short, twice with Maccabi stopping the Italian side on their second attempt, and then in the early 90's it finally happened a star pack Jugoplastica completed what seemed as almost impossible – completing a three-peat of their own. 



It took 13 years for Maccabi to embark on their own journey at what is known as the ultimate glory, in the era of the new millennium Maccabi has arguably played the most attractive, breathtaking basketball the old continent has ever seen, as a matter of Maccabi was the refreshing fashionable change everyone was looking for. 

The squad in yellow and blue sent a shockwave throughout Europe due to the manner they won the 2003/04 EuroLeague season and by the 2004/05 tipoff it was crystal clear that Maccabi is here to stay and that they are projected to make it to the final four that was played in Moscow, and with the thousands of fans from the yellow nation cheering in the stands the Maccabi became the first team in the new millennium and the first team since 1988 (Tracer Milano) to win back to back titles. 

Everyone wants a piece of the champs, a title shot, to be the ones to dethrone the reigning champs, but know this, the reigning champs should not go without a fight swinging all the way to the finals, but what happens when between you and the final four stands a team so resilient that has that final four fever, a team that will eventually be considered as an empire, a team that planted its first seeds of Greek red and white aspirations during the regular season of 2005/06, a team that will try and stand in Maccabi's way to the final four – Olympiacos Piraeus.



During the 2005/06 season Maccabi had to make adjustments with the departure of its Phenom point guard Sarunas Jasikevicious to the Indiana Pacers, and with these adjustments the expectations for the back to back champs were just as high as they were before- they had to make it to the final four, but in order to make it there they had to beat Olympiacos Piraeus in a best of three playoff series.
The series itself featured Sofoklis Schortsianitis and Andrija Zizic, two players in red and white that ended up winning the 2013\14 EuroLeague championship with Maccabi. The teams kept their homes safe during the regular season against each other promising that the series has all the makings to go the distance in the most spectacular fashion. 

In game one Maccabi showed its dominance as they had the double digit lead during the third, an though it looked like the game was headed in a very specific direction however, Big Sofo and Quincy Lewis had other plans as Olympiacos tied the game at the fourth quarter. Maccabi remained poised and enjoyed clutch plays by Solomon, Vujcic and Baston to secure the win in game 1. 

The reds kept their state of mind saying that they have two more games, and they opened the second game focused and poised as they took a double digit lead in the first half, however Anthony Parker's tremendous damage control gave Maccabi kept Maccabi's spirits high, in the second half Olympiacos increased their lead but this time Sharp gave the yellows a fighting chance. Olympiacos ended up securing the win after Panagiotis Vassilopoulos capitalized on an offensive rebound. 



Game 3 was naturally a do or die, win and you start knocking on the three-peat's door, you lose and well, the fairytale ends. The game was nothing less of a duel of masterminds, a duel where the main executioners being the big man, in the red and white corner it was big Sofo who fought and scratched, in the yellow and blue corner it was the one who ended up delivering the knockout – Nikola Vujcic with his sixth rebound of the night. Both teams traded blows with Maccabi having the edge from the get go, deep in the fourth Olympiacos managed to take the lead but Vujcic scored three free throws to give Maccabi the lead, the drama then continued where nerves of steel played a big role with Solomon giving Maccabi a 76:73 lead with 24.8 seconds remaining. 

Olympiacos had the chance to tie the game but Papamakarios missed his three point attempt, Vujcic grabbed the rebound and was immediately sent to the line where he secured the win that sent the yellow army to Prague where Maccabi made it to the finals but just like Madrid, Varese this time it was the yellow nation that fell one short but not before they provided an amazing playoff series that went the distance.



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