CSKA Moscow just edged Maccabi 73-69 in a dramatic final to take the European championship from the 2004 and 2005 title holders last year, but the hosts are the heavy favourites when Tel Aviv visit the Russian capital on Thursday.
Maccabi struggled into the quarter-finals this season, but showed their mettle in game two in Tel Aviv holding CSKA to a record-low quarter-final points total to level the three-game series with a 68-56 win.
When the two teams played in Moscow, however, it was CSKA who cruised to victory 80-58 on the strength of 16 points from the Alaskan Assassin Trajan Langdon.
Still, Maccabi captain Derrick Sharp is confident his club can repeat their game-two exploit on the road this time and unseat the holders.
"We already proved to ourselves what we are capable of in the second game that we won. We're going to Moscow to win and give 100 percent," the Maccabi Elite guard said prior to the decisive third game.
"We have more self confidence than before. There's more flow in our game, and although it will be difficult, I certainly believe we can win over there."
Sharp and his team-mates will have to stop some of the best scorers in Europe if they hope to stun CSKA on their home floor, as CSKA are undefeated in Moscow this season while Tel Aviv have only won three on the road.
The combined firepower of Langdon, Oscar Torres, Theo Papaloukas, J.R. Holden, Aleksey Savrasenko and David Andersen has proven too much for most opponents, but Maccabi were able to halt an 18-game European win streak by CSKA in Tel Aviv and are perfectly capable of repeating the stunt.
The visitors will be relying on big games from inside duo Nikola Vujcic and Lior Eliyahu and guards Tal Burstein and Will Bynum, but Tel Aviv coach Neven Spahija thinks that if his side dictate the pace CSKA will fall.
"This game will be decided not only in basketball. I think CSKA will try to decide the game early," Spahija said. "If they fail, maybe the pressure on them will be higher."
Follow LIVE coverage of the do-or-die quarter-finals between CSKA Moscow v Maccabi Tel Aviv from 18:15 CET and Malaga v Barcelona from 20:45 on www.eurosport.com.