The first phase is made up of four groups with six teams. Of which after ten rounds the first three will pass to a group and the last three to another group. The results will shape the second phase
The final four this year was held in the Greek city of Thessaloniki. Remaining the semifinals that face BARCELONA against MACCABI and PANATHINAIKOS against EFES PILSEN
In the first semifinal Barcelona started with some favoritism but Ghershon won the battle on the bench to Aito leading the game at a very slow and calculated pace that always benefited the yellows. Huffman the center of Maccabi was a real nightmare for the blaugranas. In the Catalan team none of its stars took that step forward.
The big winner of the night was the Serbian Željko Obradović, who became the first coach to win the Euroleague with four different teams: Partizan (1992), Joventut de Badalona (1994), Real Madrid (1995) and Panathinaïkós (2000). The Greek team fulfilled all expectations and won the Final Four in Thessaloniki, their second title in Europe’s premier competition. The Obradović suffered until the last minutes to break a Maccabi who put up a great resistance, just until the personal fouls diminished the game of the Israelis.
The game began crazy, full of inaccuracies and nervousness in most players. Only Rebrača, for Panathinaïkós, and Huffman, for Maccabi, saw hoop easily. The first seven points of the Israelis were from the American, who moved at will by the Greek zone. For its part, Rebrača kept the whole of Obradović within the meeting with their actions. The Panathinaïkós did not find the rhythm of party in this first part. Gentile was very pressured by Sharp, which prevented the arrival of frank basketball to the Greek shooters, and especially Bodiroga, very well marked by Henefeld.
In this tessitura, Obradović chose to move the bench and try to correct the errors. After several minutes of exchange of baskets, in Maccabi woke up McDonald and Sharp, who began to believe that the Greek bear was not as fierce as they painted it. Huffman continued with his sum and remains particular (14 points at the end of the first half), and Pini Gershon’s began to dominate on the scoreboard (17-19). The Israeli defence was becoming more and more intense. From the outside, Panathinaïkós saw no hoop, and only the contribution of an unstoppable Rebrača (17 points at half-time) and Burke’s rebounds kept the Greeks alive. Bodiroga was missing in combat and very desangelized, and Kattash was too heavy to face his ex-team. Brisker and Sharp had become clear threats to the Panathinaïkós, without the rival defense were raised solutions to stop them. Thus, Maccabi clearly dominated on the scoreboard with three minutes to go (29-36). The many faults committed by the Maccabees were the only drawback to a first part of luxury on the part of Gershon’s side. At that moment, Rebrača decided to pull his team and, with a partial of 7-0, Panathinaïkós managed to reach the break with the match tied (36-36), without the great first part of Maccabi had been of any use.
The first minutes of the restart didn’t bring anything good for the macabeo team. Both teams were imprecise in the face of the hoop, but the thing was complicated for the Israelis when, in two consecutive actions, Sharp saw how Brazauskas pitaba the fourth staff and then Huffman received the third and fourth in a row. Gershon had to sit on the bench to the latter, a moment that Bodiroga took advantage to basket his first basket in play and put his team ahead on the scoreboard (40-37). The Panathinaïkós began to feel very comfortable on the pitch, in the middle of a hellish atmosphere created by the Greek fans, who began to make themselves really noticeable. Bodiroga returned to the bench, and Obradović chose to play with two bases, Gentile and Kattash, while Gershon played and gave it back to Huffman, aware of the need for the American in the offensive plane of Maccabi. Rebrača was already owner and lord of the party and the differences increased for Panathinaïkós (52-41).
At that moment, a new player came to join the Greek party: Fotsis, the great «covered» of the final, which broke the match with nine points almost consecutive, which gave a comfortable income of eleven points to Panathinaïkós (57-46). Only Huffman scored in the macabeo team, so the title was getting closer and closer to the Greeks. The Maccabi then decided to die in defense and, thanks to an exhausting pressure throughout the track, reduced the differences (58-52) with four minutes to go, which returned to put him in a very exciting match for the intensity in each of their actions. Brisker and McDonald also began to help Huffman in the offensive aspect. But then Kattash came up with his individual actions to target his ex-team. Bodiroga sentenced the match from the line of free throws to establish a final 73-67 that crowned Panathinaïkós as Europe’s best team of the year 2000.