Maccabi Tel Aviv will strive to recapture the glory days of the last decade in this weekend’s Euroleague basketball final-four in Milan.
The five-times European champions have not lifted the Euroleague crown since back-to-back triumphs in 2004 and 2005, and have not reached the final-four since 2011.
The Israelis will start as underdogs against CSKA Moscow in today’s semi-final having already lost to the Russians twice in the group stage, including a bruising 35-point thrashing in the away leg.
However, Maccabi captain Guy Pnini is not daunted. He said: “We are going to Italy not only to beat CSKA, but also to win the title.
"Thousands of travelling Maccabi fans will add a home atmosphere to the game and we have a marvellous team spirit as we showed to come from behind to beat Milan in the quarter-finals.”
The game has an extra edge with reports that Maccabi coach David Blatt has been offered a two-year contract by CSKA.
Maccabi have injury doubts over Sylvan Landesburg, an American Jew, and Australian Joe Ingles to further hamper their prospects, but guard Yogev Ohayon remains upbeat.
"On paper CSKA are a stronger team, but it is just one game and our confidence and belief is very high," he said.