Barcelona hosts the basketball’s Euroleague Final Four 2011

The Panathinaikos, Montepaschi Siena, Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Real Madrid are playing to become the European champions. The winner will be known on Sunday afternoon. Last year, FC Barcelona won the competition in Paris, but this year Barça will have to look the games from the sidelines.

CNA / Joaquim Goméz Ribas

May 6, 2011 08:41 PM

Barcelona (CNA).- From the 6th to the 8th of May the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona will host the Final Four, European basketball’s most prestigious competition. Greece, Israel, Italy and Spain are all represented as Panathinaikos, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Montepaschi Siena and Real Madrid have made it to the final of this season Euroleague. The 2011 Finals are being held in the Catalan capital for the 3rd time following the 1998 and 2003 editions. This year, reigning champions FC Barcelona will watch from the sidelines as competition starts on Friday and runs through to Sunday’s final.

The Palau Sant Jordi, built for the 1992 Olympic Games, has a capacity for more than 16,500 spectators and will host the tournament for the third time after Kinder Bologne won the title back in 1998 and the hosts FC Barcelona beat Benetton Treviso in 2003. FC Barcelona won the 2010 title in Paris last year but after losing to Panathinaikos in the quarter-finals this year the Catalan team will not be taking part.

The first semi-final, Panathinaikos versus Montepaschi Siena, is played on Friday at 6pm (CET). The Greek squad will be aiming for its sixth title after winning for the last time back in 2009 and are led by the most successful coach in the competition, Zeljko Obradovic, seven-time winner of the trophy. Montepaschi Siena have reached the Final Four for the third time but have never made it to the final.

The second semi-final will be fought out between Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Real Madrid. The Israeli team has won the title on five occasions, the last time back in 2005. By reaching this final four for the eleventh time, Maccabi equals F.C.Barcelona as the team with most Euroleague Final Four appearances. Real Madrid is the most successful team in the history of the competition, with eight titles, but they have not made it to the finals since 1996. Real Madrid made it to Barcelona after eliminating another Spanish team, Power Electronics Valencia.

The third place game will be on Sunday at 1.30 pm. and the final at 4.30 pm.  Normally the Euroleague final is played around 9 pm. but Maccabi asked for the game to be played during sunlight hours because the final is on the eve of Yom Hazikaron, Rememberance Day for Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism. Israeli sports teams are prohibited from taking part in any competition on this day and the restrictions begin at sundown on the day before. The other three participants accepted to move the match times forward.

Barcelona is becoming a regular host of basketball’s biggest competitions. Next year the Catalan capital will host the Spanish Basketball Cup with the participation of Spain’s eight best teams and in 2014 the World Championship will be held in Spain and Barcelona will be one of the venues for the competition.