Maccabi Tel AvivIn Israel, everybody knows, Maccabi is a lot more than just a basketball team, Maccabi means a lot more, being a Maccabist means being a winner, it means never giving up, it means going to win, even when all the chances are against you and never feeling weaker than your opponent, Maccabi means titles, Maccabi means glory. And since the end of 2007-2008 it looked like something bad is happening to the Maccabism. Maccabi for the first time didn’t win any title, lost the Israeli cup for the second time in a row and lost the championship in the last second and even a Euroleague final couldn’t save coach Sherf from being fired, because in Maccabi the biggest sin is losing and losing Three titles in the final game is as bad as murdering your beloved three children.

And as if that wasn’t enough, then came the next season with the new coach Efi Birenboim  who was a bit like Pini Gershon before he first became Maccabi’s coach, complaining about Maccabi’s dominancy and being a huge rival, maybe Maccabi administration thought that it might work once again, but it didn’t, Efi failed hardly and actually built a roster that fits only the Israeli league, perhaps he thought his goal was to bring the championship back, what he didn’t know or chose to ignore was that in Maccabi there’s no such thing as fighting for the championship, for the phenomenon called Maccabi Tel Aviv championship is not more than obvious. Too bad for poor Efi.

Then happened what every Maccabi fan waited for, the big magician, the basketball genius as seen in the yellow eyes that brought Maccabi 3 of its 5 European championships was back, Pini Gershon the man and the show. With Pini came big expectations, and with those expectations came new players, every week, seriously every week. And just as fast as those expectations left so did the new players. This season was a huge failure and Maccabi couldn’t even reach the Final 8, did I mention that in Maccabi losing is not welcomed already?

In the meantime, Maccabi also lost the domestic cup for the 3rd year in a row (something that happened only once in the history of the club) after that, for the first time people started to speak about what was not less than denial of Maccabi’s big master, Pini, people started to think of firing Pini in case the missing children, the championship, won’t come back that season. With that came some conflicts in Maccabi’s management, Raanan Katz against the other owners led by David Federman and the Reknaty family, things started to smell bad, it was also reported that a rare thing for Maccabi happened when Maccabi ended a season with losing money. It looked bad and Federman & Reknaty blamed Katz for giving these numbers to the media it eventually ended up with Katz leaving after a huge media-covered conflict.

It seemed like things couldn’t go any worse, well that was the wrong thought, Maccabi couldn’t find any big channel that would agree to buy the games rights in this season and lost a lot of money as well as Public support when it was decided that the games would not be on an open channel, the channel is open to all on the game time but you must be connected to some cables or satellite company to see the game, most of Israelis are customers of these companies but many saw that move of Maccabi as greed and it felt like Maccabi who used to be a big consensus now put itself away from the people that made it what it was in Israel, and just when it seemed we’ve got to the bottom we found out how surprising that we were wrong.

The beloved manager Moni Fanan had committed suicide and shocked all Maccabi players and management and many former Maccabi players and like that wasn’t enough it was found out that Fanan who was like the father of foreign players was running a “bank” and investing players’ money (with their will of course). And even though the media tried to make it bigger than it actually was talking about referees corruption it was soon found out wrong. Maccabi then finished a horrible group stage with disappointing 6-4 record, 3rd place and a humiliating loss to Maroussi, Lampe the most expensive players of this season was found out as a huge flop and was thrown away from Maccabi’s roster, and the media celebrated what looked as the death of the immortal.

But it was then when Maccabi woke up, Pini who said after Maroussi that “Maccabi is not a final 8 team, definitely not a final four team” has got a clear message from the management, this is the roster and you’ll get us to the top with it, that’s when Pini from the good old days came back, it looked like he lives the game again, after the media said Maccabi’s most likely to finish its way in the top 16 for the second time in a row it was the time when the yellow spirit was back, it began with a huge fight in Siena and a loss and after the fifth game in the top 16 it was finally over, Maccabi is at the Final 8, now of course that’s  great but something was missing, it still wasn’t what we were all looking for, we still wanted the Maccabism of the good old days, we needed a great away victory to finish this tough group as first and prove once and for all that no matter what, Maccabi can’t die, and it happened, a great money time performance and another huge last quarter gave Maccabi what it needed.

Now it’s all up to the Final 8 series against Partizan, a team with a strong will and even stronger crowd but this is the chance to get back, especially after we’ve got the cup back there’s one more thing missing for getting fully back to the good old days, and that’s a Final Four, for an outsider it might look like a nice Quarterfinal series nothing more, and how come a club like Maccabi is making such a big deal of a Final 8 after the great results this decade but for Maccabi it’s the chance to scream out loud “we are here and we’re stronger than ever” to all those who waited to see this giant falls. That’s why it’s a lot more than just another series, it’s something to shove up the asses of those who tried to knock this club down and show them that nothing is strong enough to take Maccabi down, NOTHING.

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