Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday night

Friday night, Sabbath eve, or as we would put it in Hebrew, 'erev shabat'. It's the big meal of the week, and sharing it with us were our daughter and son-in-law. Before they were married, our daughter ate with us every week and our future son-in-law didn't (he ate with his parents), but now they come to us one week and go to his parents the other week.

This week was special as they brought with them the photo album from the wedding, along with the dvd. It was also special because Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball were playing in the Euroleague Final Four, the game starting at 7pm - just as we made kiddush before eating. I imagine that there were many families throughout Israel who ate their shabbat meal facing the television, something which is normally anathema.

I had decided previously to record the game; it's more important to me to spend time with my family. During the meal, I actually forgot about the game, but after we finished eating, I checked to see what the score was. CSKA were leading by eight points at half-time.

After we cleared the table and cleaned up somewhat, we sat by the television to watch the wedding dvd. Before we started, we had a quick peek at the basketball - Maccabi had cut the deficit to only three points with just over three minutes to go. In other words, the game was totally open.

We watched the dvd, which started with about ten minutes of footage shot prior to the couple arriving at the hall. This footage mainly consisted of two interviews with the couple, shot separately but interleaved. I have to say that the dvd was produced extremely professionally and was well worth the moment.

Suddenly we heard shouting from the flat next door. At first, we looked at each other blankly but then realised that the basketball match must have finished and that Maccabi must have won! We stopped the dvd and tuned the television to the channel which was showing the match - indeed, Maccabi had won by a single point! We then went back to watching the dvd.

It must have been a close and nail biting finish, although I also suspect that the last minute would have consisted mainly of fouls and free shots. Nerve wracking, but not good basketball. Tomorrow I shall watch the recording and transfer it to dvd for prosperity.

Who would have thought eight months ago that Maccabi would be in the Euroleague final? They were losing matches to winnows in the Israeli league, and I was almost ignoring them after the callous way in which they let the previous year's captain, Lior Eliyahu, go. Somewhere in November, the team started to coalesce, finishing top of its group in the preliminary matches. The second round - much harder - went better although Maccabi finished only third in its group.

The quarterfinal games against Milano were of very high standard (best of five, with home court advantage to the Italians). Possibly Milano were hindered by the decisions their coach made; the first game in Milano was lost by the home team after losing their heads (I saw three quarters of the game but missed the final and decisive quarter after assuming that Milano would win). The second game was much more straightforward for the Italian team, but they were outgunned when the next two games were played in Tel Aviv.

So now we have a final on Sunday evening, against either Real Madrid or Barcelona. Maccabi lost twice to Madrid but haven't played Barcelona this year (I should point out that they also lost twice this year to CSKA but won the semifinal); both teams are better than Maccabi and whichever Spanish team makes it to the final will be a strong favourite. But stranger things have happened.

To be honest, I don't like the style of basketball played in the final four. It's always very defensive and not very attractive. The exception which proves the rule was the blow-out by Maccabi in 2004 when they won by a record margin, 118-74. I've just had a peek at the Euroleague website and it seems that the last minute did not consist mainly of fouls and free shots.

[SO: 3577; 2, 13, 33
MPP: 396; 0, 1, 6]

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