Maccabi rallies from 15 down to stun CSKA, advance to championship game!
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv booked its date with basketball history on Friday as the five-time continental champion fought back from a 15-point deficit late in the third quarter to beat CSKA Moscow 67-68. Tyrese Rice’s basket with 5.5 seconds left secured Maccabi its spot in Sunday’s Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four Championship Game. In the semifinal showdown at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan with CSKA - a rematch of the 2006 and 2008 Euroleague finals - Tel Aviv’s David Blu scored 15 points on 5 three-pointers which jumped him into a tie for the fifth most triples in Final Fours. Blu has made 19 of 35 in seven Final Four games. Rice finished with 13 points while Ricky Hickman and Alex Tyus both scored 10 points. Maccabi will be playing in its 15th final and shooting for its first title since 2005. CSKA meanwhile will have to live with another nightmare collapse at the Final Four and settle for the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four Third Place Game despite Sasha Kaun collecting 14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Milos Teosodic added 12 points. Victor Khryapa, whose costly turnover gave Maccabi the chance to win the game, scored 9 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. CSKA big man Kyle Hines scored 6 against Maccabi but lost his bid for a historic three-peat – something that only Sarunas Jasikevicius has done since Spilt won its third consecutive Euroleague title in 1991.
First quarter: Kaun dominates inside for Muscovites
Ricky Hickman opened the scoring at the Final Four with a driving layup, and Kaun answered on the other end with a basket from close range. Yogev Ohayon scored on a fastbreak for Maccabi, but free throws from Kaun and Andrey Vorontsevich gave CSKA a 6-4 lead. Kaun continued to be the biggest factor on the floor, scoring again from close range, then blocking Aley Tyus’s attempt, before his tip-in made it 10-4. Ohayon’s jumper snapped an 8-0 run, but Kaun scored again from close range before Kyle Hines made a short, but tough, fadeaway jumper for a 14-6 lead. Joe Ingles was quick to answer for Maccabi, before Sofoklis Schortsanitis muscled his way for a pair of baskets. That was not the end of Maccabi’s run as Hickman raced for a fastbreak layup that evened the score at 14-14. After a timeout taken by CSKA coach Ettore Messina, Vladimir Micov hit a turnaround jumper to snap the Moscow club’s drought. Tyrese Rice banked in a floater to tie things up again, but Victor Khryapa scored a reverse layup and Sonny Weems split free throws for CSKA, rounding out the scoring in the first quarter at 19-16.
Second quarter: Despite Maccabi’s threes, CSKA remains ahead
Aaron Jackson’s put-back started things, but David Blu hit the first three-pointer of the game to make it 21-19. Khryapa’s dunk and a baseline jumper from Milos Teodosic kept CSKA in front, but Blu nailed another three-pointer to keep Maccabi within 25-22. Maccabi tried to put extra pressure on CSKA’s ball handlers with the occasional full-court press, and after Khryapa’s jumper, Ohayon buried a third Maccabi shot from downtown. But Teodosic answered with a triple-plus-free throw, making it 31-25. Tyus had a tip-in to keep Maccabi in range, but Micov and Kaun protected CSKA’s paint, not allowing the Israeli champs to get any closer. A third personal foul for Schortsanitis was a new issue Maccabi had to deal with, and free throws from Teodosic and Vorontsevich made it the largest margin of the evening, 35-27. In the final minute of the half, Rice split foul shots, then drove for a layup, but Vitaly Fridzon sank a three-pointer, giving CSKA a 38-30 halftime lead.
Third quarter: Difference reaches 15 before Maccabi hints at comeback
The margin reached 10 points at the start of the third quarter, when Weems threw an alley-oop pass to Kaun’s for a dunk. Blu hit a three-pointer before both teams failed to convert on several trips down the floor. It was CSKA that struck next; layups from Micov and Hines made it 44-33, putting the Russian side in control. Devin Smith nailed a triple for Maccabi, but after Teodosic and Tyus traded baskets, Fridzon knocked down a three to restore an 11-point lead. Maccabi’s shot was not falling, and even though Smith came through with another tip-in, Hines answered right back with a second-chance basket of his own. After Krstic nailed a long jumper (his first points of the night), and Weems drove for a little floater, the lead had reached 55-40. However Maccabi managed to cut the deficit in the final minute of the quarter. Rice made free throws, and Hickman buried a triple, making it 55-45.
Fourth quarter: Blu, Rice complete another Maccabi miracle in Milan
Rice continued the run from the end of the third quarter, driving through a crowd for a layup to start the fourth. Kaun continued to be the presence inside, banking it in from two meters, but Tyus fought back with a pair of baskets, including a put-back dunk to make it 57-51, as the Maccabi fans raised the level of the noise to another lever. Khryapa briefly silenced them with a corner triple, but Blu nailed one of his own, keeping Maccabi at the same distance, 60-54. Teodosic made a mid-range jumper, but Hickman’s three-pointer cut the deficit to 62-57 with less than four minutes remaining. Maccabi did not allow a basket for almost three minutes, and Rice drove for a layup that made it a 3-point game. Krstic ended CSKA’s drought, battling under the rim for a tough layup, but Tyus made a put-back for 64-61 with a minute to go. Weems split free throws, and after Smith answered with a layup that cut it to 2 points, Weems sank an off-the-dribble jumper from 5 meters away, giving CSKA a 67-63 lead with 19.2 seconds on the clock. The game was far from over, however. After a Maccabi timeout, Blu hit a three-point shot that made it 67-66, then Blu stole the ball and passed to Rice, who raced for a game-winning layup with 5.5 seconds left. Weems last shot was off and Mediolanum Forum’s yellow majority erupted.
Friday, May 16, 2014