A week after a lackluster display led to a loss against Panathinaikos, Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv encountered the Greek giants again, but this time the game and the outcome were completely different.
Maik Zirbes scored 21 points (10-11 from the field) and led Maccabi to a 90:88 win and a place in the Gomelski cup final. Maccabi was without Andrew Goudelock who's suffering from a partial tear in his Hamstring, but other players came through both in terms of scoring and ball-handling - a sore issue from a week ago.
It was however a defensive play by Victor Rudd that ensured a win. Rudd blocked Ioannis Bourousis's shot with a second left on the clock to deny Pao any chance of reaching overtime.
Other than Zirbes, it was Gal Mekel who led the way in terms of scoring with 16 points, many of which came in the fourth quarter. Sonny Weems scored 9 and added 6 rebounds and 6 assists, Rudd and Colton Iverson scored 8 each, Sylven Landsberg added 7, Yogev Ohayon and DJ Seeley got 6 each, Guy Pnini 5 and Devin Smith 4.
"I'm happy I got to his shot", said Victor Rudd after his big play, "we were trying to switch everything and make sure he didn't get a good look. I saw it all the way and it turned out well".
Gal Mekel added: "It's a very nice win, very important for our confidence. Last week we lost against these guys because of a lack in both determination and aggressiveness - two things that should be a part of our DNA. I'm glad it turned out different this time around. We also handled the ball way better".