The AP reports:

Real Madrid can move closer to adding to its record haul of European basketball titles when it faces Maccabi Tel Aviv on Friday in the Euroleague Final Four.

The Spanish club has won eight continental titles, but their last came 16 years ago.

But four-time champion Maccabi, which boasts Europe’s most potent offensive with more than 82 points per game, comes first. The Israeli team is led by American guard Jeremy Pargo and Greek big man Sofoklis Schortsanitis.

Captain Felipe Reyes and former Maccabi center D’or Fischer anchor a Madrid squad which will look to guard Sergio Llull(notes) and Nikola Mirotic to counter Maccabi’s firepower…

In the other semifinal, Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos plays Italian champion Montepaschi Siena for a spot in Sunday’s final.

Madrid arrives after a roller coaster season that saw much lauded head coach Ettore Messina resign just before its quarterfinal series against Valencia, which it won 3-2. But Madrid’s roster will no doubt draw extra motivation with the chance to win in Barcelona after its football team was eliminated from the Champions League by the Catalan club earlier this week…

The Israeli team can also count on one of the most loyal fans bases in European basketball: More than 5,000 have traveled to Spain to boost their team, which, if it wins on Friday, will equal Madrid with its 14th European title game.

The key figure for the Greek team on both ends of the court will be versatile point guard Dimitris Diamantidis, who recently won his sixth Euroleague Best Defender award in the last seven seasons. His playoff-leading 18 points per game were critical to his team ousting defending champion Barcelona in the quarterfinals.

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