Saturday started in good fashion. After walking the dog and eating breakfast, I got down to work: transferring the recording of the previous night's basketball game to dvd (whilst editing out the breaks) and finding the page references for all the direct quotes appearing in my draft research proposal.
The second half - and especially the final quarter - of the game was quite extra-ordinary: CSKA had a 15 point lead about 12 minutes before the end of the game. Maccabi managed to chip away at this until they were four points behind with 19 seconds left to play. A short and sharp attack saw them score a three point basket, leaving CSKA with a one point lead, eight seconds to play and the ball in their hand.
At this stage, most coaches for the defensive side would order a foul (ie a Maccabi player should foul a CSKA player), so that even if CSKA sank both the resulting free throws, Maccabi would have the ball for the remaining time and so could possibly score a three pointer, thus tieing the game. The Maccabi coach gave no such order; a CSKA player fumbled the ball which was picked up by Maccabi and converted into a field goal with five seconds left to play. CSKA did not manage to score from the final possession.
A fairy tale ending! Maccabi unfortunately has been on the wrong end of such last second plays a few times this season so it is satisfying when things do go right.
In the evening, we went to my son-in-law's parents for a Lag B'Omer bonfire, along with many of his (many) relatives. This didn't start till about 9pm; we left early but only got home just before midnight. I was up again at 5:30am, feeling extremely tired - and as it later transpired, weak. I had an appointment (made a week previously) with our doctor, who confirmed my diagnosis of anaemia. I was so tired after the appointment (at 3:15pm) that it was all I could do to crawl home, lie on the couch and watch some television. I went to bed just after 8pm, in full recognition of the fact that I would not see the Euroleague final (if it starts at 9pm then it wouldn't finish until about 11pm and I didn't have the strength for that). But of course I recorded it.
On Saturday, I had been planning to write this blog entry with the title "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride (and sometimes not even that)" in recognition of the fact that Maccabi has managed to get to the Euroleague final several times in the past decade but not win. This title conveniently ignores the times that they have won. Instead, I get to use a variant of a song from 1973 by Irish warbler Gilbert O'Sullivan (born Raymond Edward O'Sullivan).
I slept very well and wasn't disturbed by any shouting or celebrating during the night. In fact, in my dreams (those that I can remember), there was nothing about basketball matches. My wife woke up while I was dressing and asked whether I was curious at to the game's result. She explained that she doesn't normally watch basketball matches, but she was watching Big Brother on one channel; every time that there was a commercial break, she would switch to the channel broadcasting the game, and as the score was so close, she decided to watch it until the end. She said that the game went into overtime and then Maccabi built a lead ....
After walking the dog, I confirmed via the official Euroloeague website that Maccabi did indeed win. I even read their report of the game but couldn't muster much enthusiasm. I will watch the game this evening.
I don't claim to be a basketball pundit, but I did have a certain amount of pre-game analysis. Man for man, Real Madrid are a better team than Maccabi, but then, so are CSKA and look what happened to them. I felt that Maccabi stood a good chance if it were a close match, but doubted whether they could present a challenge if Real dominated the game (as they did against Barcelona). Let us not forget that Real beat Maccabi earlier in the season on the final basket, so there is recent precedent for a Maccabi win.