Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv opened its Top 16 Group F play with a comfortable 96-65 victory at home over Alba Berlin on Thursday. The 2008 Euroleague finalist from Maccabi allowed just 22 points in the second and third quarters as Top 16 debutant Berlin was clearly over-matched, especially in the paint. Maccabi out-rebounded Berlin 39-22 and hit 70% of its two-point shots. Maccabi used runs of 8-0 in the first quarter and 10-0 in the second to gain control of the game before just over-powering Berlin the rest of the way. Lior Eliyahu led all scorers with 22 points while grabbing 8 rebounds. D'Or Fischer added 21 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks while Omri Casspi had 12 points. New acquisition Dee Brown scored 11 points in his Euroleague debut and veteran Marcus Brown had 11 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists for the winners. Carlos Arroyo tallied 8 points and 10 assists for Maccabi. Immanuel McElroy hit for 17 points to lead Berlin while Ansu Sesay scored 15 and Julius Jenkins 14. Besides McElroy's production, the rest of Berlin's starting five collected just 15 points combined.
Fischer opened the scoring for the hosts with a jumper from the right side. Berlin's first basket came from Casey Jacobsen from long range and Sesay followed suit from beyond the arc to push the Berlin lead to 2-6. Sesay would hit a three-pointer from the top of the key as the German side led 4-9. Arroyo finally got on the scoring board with a jumper and Eliyahu and Fischer both converted inside baskets in an 8-0 run for a 12-9 lead and a Berlin time-out. Steffen Hamann came out of the break with a layup to stop the Maccabi run. But Eliyahu and Arroyo combined for three foul shots to push the margin to 15-11. Jenkins came off the bench to hit two free throws and then drove the length of the court to even the game at 15-15. Maccabi, however, was quicker back in transition with Casspi hammering down a dunk. The speed of the game continued to be pretty frantic with McElroy evening the game again at 17-17 only to have Casspi hit in transition again. Another Casspi lay-in was followed by two Eliyahu free throws for a 23-17 advantage for the hosts. Jenkins was left wide open and nailed a three-point shot to cut the deficit to three points. Fischer, however, put back an offensive rebound and Casspi made two free throws - for 10 points in the first period - as Maccabi was leading 27-20 after one quarter.
Aleksandar Nadjfeji started the second period by kissing a layup off the glass to make it 27-22. But Maccabi picked up its defense to shut down the guests. Arroyo's tough jumper started a big Maccabi run. Marcus Brown found some room inside and Arroyo nailed a jumper from the baseline to push the lead into double digits - 33-22. Brown again hit inside and Berlin called a timeout. Marcus Brown and Eliyahu hit layups on either side of the Berlin time-out to complete the 10-0 run for a 37-22 advantage. Sesay's basket stopped the run as Berlin finally scored again after six consecutive scoreless possessions, including four turnovers. New acquisition Dee Brown, however, came off the bench and nailed a three-point shot to push the gap to 40-24. Sesay's two foul shots and Jenkins's running jumper made it 40-28. It was 42-30 when Dee Brown knocked down another triple from the opposite left wing. Fischer followed that basket with a beautiful alley-oop dunk from a Dee Brown pass and then Dee Brown picked up an easy break-away layup after a Berlin turnover as Maccabi cruised ahead 49-30. Jenkins did finish the second quarter with a mid-range jumper as Maccabi led 49-32 at the break.
Marcus Brown started the second half with a three-pointer as the lead reached 20 points for the first time - 52-32. And a Fischer tip-in made it 54-32. Berlin failed to convert on its first five possessions of the second half before Sesay dropped a triple. But Casspi threw down a thunderous dunk in transition after a great pass by Arroyo. And Fischer's two foul shots pushed the margin to 58-35. Berlin tried everything it could to get back into the game with Sesay making two foul shots and McElroy nailing a triple to cut the margin to 60-40. But the combination of Yaniv Green and Eliyahu was too much for Berlin as they scored all eight points in an 8-2 run to finish the third period, including Arroyo continuing his fine passing game with a fine pass to Green for an easy layup. Maccabi led 68-42 after three periods.
Green's free throw opened the scoring in the final quarter. Rashad Wright fought in a reverse layup for Berlin but Dee Brown answered right back at the other end with another three-pointer to make it 72-44. Berlin tried to muster one more fun and Wright, Jenkins and Dragan Dojcin all nailed three-point shots as the lead was cut to 74-53. Eliyahu proved way too much for Berlin though, scoring eight straight points for Maccabi, which remained ahead 82-57. McElroy refused to give up, scoring two straight baskets for Berlin, which trailed 82-59 as it was trying to cut into the point differential for later in the Top 16. Fischer, however, completed a three-point play and then knocked down a turn-around jumper. Then Tre Simmons entered the game and got his circus shot to fall and completed the three-point play as the lead grew to 31 points 92-61. And that would be the final difference as Eliyahu's basket finished the scoring 96-65.
Thursday, January 29, 2009