Maccabi Electra used a 17-0 surge to open the second half en route to a 90-83 win over Air Avellino on Thursday night at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv. The win stretched Maccabi’s run to 11 straight seasons in which the club has won its Euroleague home opener. The star of the evening was Carlos Arroyo, who shined bright with 20 points and 8 assists, while Marcus Brown, who capped the big run with back-to-back three-pointers, finished with 15 points in 17 minutes and Lior Eliyahu recorded 15 points on perfect shooting. Maccabi improved to 1-1 in Group A ahead of its home clash with Le Mans next week. Avellino, which next hosts Unicaja, fell to 0-2. The hosts led for much of the game, though Avellino kept it close in the first half, keeping within 2 behind some hot shooting by Drake Diener. Unsportsmanlike fouls by Diener and Tamar Slay gave Maccabi an opportunity to pull away, but the hosts led just 45-39 at halftime. However the 17-point charge that opened the second half essentially put the game out of reach. The lead peaked at 81-54 early in the fourth quarter and Maccabi eased up at that point. Avellino though did not and Chris Warren, Travis Best and Slay led a heroic comeback. But despite cutting the gap to single digits, Avellino ran out of time and Maccabi celebrated the win. D’Or Fischer and Tal Burstein scored 11 points apiece to round out a list of all five Maccabi starters scoring in double figures. Warren led Avellino with 20 points, Marko Tusek and Diener netted 13 each and Slay and Best scored 11 apiece.
Maccabi won the opening tip, but it was Avellino that scored first on a Tusek fadeaway. Brown soon hit a runner for Maccabi’s first points. Burstein fed Eliyahu for an alley-oop that got the crowd involved, but baskets by Slay and Best kept the visitors on Maccabi’s heels. Arroyo fired in a triple and Eliyahu scored in the paint to make it 11-6. Warren stepped up with a three-pointer and soon fed Eric Williams for a basket-plus-foul – Burstein’s second – as Avellino cut the gap to 1. Fischer free throws and an Arroyo-to-Eliyahu alley-oop on the break put the hosts back on control. After a Nikola Radulovic basket, Arroyo beat best off the dribble for a three-point play. Arroyo remained on fire with a fadeaway jumper that made it 26-19 after 10 minutes.
Diener rifled in a three-pointer to ignite the Avellino attack as the second period began. Tre Simmons countered with a jumper for Maccabi, scoring his first Euroleague points. Then he fed Eliyahu for another alley-oop slam in transition as the hosts started to cruise. Tusek scored in the paint and then after a timeout, hit a jumper to keep Avellino in the fight. Diener trimmed the gap to 30-28 from the line and after a Burstein three-point play, Diener hit another three-ball. Esteban Batista muscled his way to a basket in the paint. On the ensuing play, Diener tripped Burstein on the break and was called for an unsportsmanlike foul. Burstein made the free throws and Omri Casspi scored on the ensuing play as the read reached 8. Daniele Cinciarini got on the scoreboard with a free throw, but Slay was then called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Jason Williams, whom he stopped in the paint. However missed free throws by Maccabi followed by a Warren triple pulled Avellino within 41-37. Eric Williams brought Avellino even closer before Simmons finished the half with a three-point play as the hosts took a 45-39 lead into the locker room.
Arroyo dished to Fischer to start the second period and on the next play, Fischer was fouled on the break and made 2 free throws to give Maccabi its first double-digit advantage. A Burstein bucket was followed by an Eliyahu slam in transition and a three-point play by Fischer as the hosts pulled away for good. Back-to-back triples by Brown capped a 17-0 start to the half that made it 62-39. Warren and Radulovic finally ended the Avellino drought after more than four minutes, a long Arroyo jumper showed that Maccabi was still playing hard. Warren drained a triple, but 2 Arroyo free throws kept the lead at 20. The pace of the game slowed a bit with numerous fouls committed and players going to the line, but the hosts continued to hold a promising lead. Tusek buried a triple from the top of the key, but a Jason Williams spin move made it 73-54 heading into the fourth quarter.
Casspi’s first three-pointer of the season followed by a Jason Williams jumper killed any hopes Avellino had of staging a comeback. Brown drilled one more triple to cap a 10-0 Maccabi run that gave the hosts their biggest lead, 81-54. Diener ended the run with a three of his own. Warren ran through the Maccabi defense for a basket and Slay soon dropped in a three. Best hit free throws and Tusek and Best both bombed from downtown to get Avellino within 83-70, wrapping a 2-16 run for the guests. Arroyo free throws ended the Avellino surge, but Warren hit another three and Best cut the gap to 12. Still time was running out for the visitors and Eliyahu made it 89-75 with less than two minutes to go. Slay took no notice and fired in a three and Warren dunked off a Maccabi turnover, but it would be too little, too late as the Avellino comeback simply ran out of time.
Thursday, October 30, 2008