The two contestants on the first two Euro Classic games each go home with a victory after Olimpia Milan defeated Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 72-76 on Sunday afternoon at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden. Maccabi had won the first game of their trip 85-79 on Thursday in Chicago. A colorful crowd sprinkled with fans with connections to Italy and Israel plus local basketball fans eager to see great European hoops enjoyed an exciting game that wasn’t decided till the final minute. Robbie Hummel and Kruno Simon scored 15 points apiece to lead Milan, which pulled ahead with a big second quarter for 31-38 halftime advantage. Milan Macvan scored all of his 11 points in the second half and Andrea Cinciarini also scored 11 for the winners. Sylven Landesberg scored 10 of his 15 points in the third quarter to lead Maccabi back and the teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 57-57. Milan regained control down the stretch and Maccabi came up short on offense in the last two minutes. Jordan Farmar added 13 points and 7 rebounds for Maccabi. During the game, Milan recognized some of its great former players with New York ties, Art Kenney, Albert King and Bill Bradley in a brief ceremony. Former Italian League star Hawthorne Wingo stood in for Bradley, who was unable to attend. Maccabi honored six of its legends and former Euroleague champs: Tal Brody, Earl Williams, Derrick Sharp, Anthony Parker, David Blu and Nikola Vujcic.
Both teams came out aggressive early; it took nearly two minutes before Jamel McLean scored the game’s first points and Itay Segev got Maccabi on the scoreboard with a free throw. Hummel and Alessandro Gentile combined to give Milan a 1-7 lead. Maccabi came back with 9 straight points from its big men and took its first lead on a Trevor Mbakwe free throw. Maccabi brought much of the crowd to its feet when Dragan Bender blocked a Gentile shot, which triggered a fast break that Landesberg finished with a slam. Bender added a triple as Maccabi grabbed a 16-12 lead after 10 minutes.
Simon and Gentile put Milan back in front, 20-22, with three-pointers. Milan’s lead reached double figures on a Hummel triple. Farmer kept Maccabi in the hunt with a basket on the break and Landesberg buried a three to make it 29-34. Jumpers by Cinciarini and Bruno Cerella left Milan with a 31-38 halftime cushion.
Bender scored from the line and with a slam as Maccabi stayed close, but counterpart McLean kept Milan comfortably ahead. Landesberg’s three-point play on the break cut the Maccabi deficit to 39-43. Landesberg soon took over with a three, a steal and a slam to bring Maccabi within 1. McLean scored on the offensive glass to keep Milan on top until a Rochestie stop-and-pop triple tied things at 49-49. Milan pushed in front again only for Maccabi to even the score on a Yogev Ohayon three, 53-53. Devin Smith’s first points of the night gave Maccabi its first lead of the second half, 57-55. Stanko Barac’s layup made it 57-57 through three quarters.
Milan jumped ahead to start the fourth and led 65-69 after a Macvan three-pointer. Farmar continued to fuel the Maccabi attack as the game remained close heading into the final stretch. Brian Randle’s slam made it a 1-point game with four minutes on the clock. Macvan sank a key jumper with 2:38 to play that put Milan in the driver’s seat at 70-75. Maccabi came up short on its next two possessions, but Randle sank free throws to make it a 3-point game with 26.5 seconds left. Hummel split free throws with 11.8 seconds to play that all but sealed the outcome.