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Rule Forces Maccabi Tel Aviv to Become Bricklayers

A EuroLeague affair hinged on an aggregate rule turned into an ugly push for overtime

Jonathan Zalman
December 18, 2015

The “action” in a recent basketball match-up between Euroleague teams Darussafaka (Turkey) and Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel) became pretty ugly, as both squads were forced to miss shots in order to send the game into overtime. Wait, what? Nobody wanted to win? Not quite. They just wanted—nay, needed—to win by a lot more than the space of a couple of free throws in the final minute could provide. Here’s a 6-second Vine of the ensuing, er, “basketball,” which is detailed below.

Here’s what went down, as reported first by Seth Rosenthal of SBNation:

The things you need to know here are:

1. The results of this game would advance one of these teams in EuroLeague while relegating the other to the second-tier EuroCup.

2. Maccabi stood a game behind Darussafaka in the standings, meaning a win would tie them, and the tiebreakers after overall record are head-to-head record and head-to-head aggregate scoring.

3. Darussafaka won the first meeting between these two teams back in November by 11 points…so Maccabi had to win Thursday by 11 or more points to grab the final EuroLeague spot. If they lost, or if they won by fewer than 11 points, they’d move down to EuroCup.

Cue the ridiculousness. For Maccabi to secure an 11-point win (which they deduced they needed overtime to make happen), and for Darussafaka to try to prevent that, a number of practically inane basketball things happened, many of which included for Los Angeles Laker (and Jew!) Jordan Farmar. (Wait, Jordan Farmar no longer plays for Maccabi?!)

– Maccabi (Jordan Farmar, specifically!) held the ball for an entire shot clock.

– Darussafaka intentionally fouled Maccabi.

– Maccabi intentionally missed their free throws.

– Darussafaka drew a foul by accident at one point and intentionally missed one of two free throws—clever, because a one-point difference created a pickle for Maccabi. Darussafaka’s coach instructed his team *not* to foul anymore so Maccabi would be forced to score a basket and take a small lead.

– Maccabi, now down 1, responded by wildly trying and failing to draw a foul, driving directly at their opponents. Darussafaka simply refused to defend on these possessions.

– Maccabi eventually relented and attempted a field goal, which went in and gave them a small lead.

– Darussafaka responded by just inbounding the ball onto the floor and batting it or letting it roll around, refusing to pick it up.

The game did go to OT, and Maccabi won—but only by 4, not the 11 they needed to stay in the Euroleague. Oh well. Thanks for the memories.

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.