2006-07Top 16Round 1
February 15, 2007 CET: 19:45
Local time: 20:45 NOKIA ARENA
Igor Rakocevic - Tau Ceramica Tau Ceramica started the Top 16 on the right foot with an impressive 68-79 win over Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv at Nokia Arena on Thursday night. The win broke a streak of losses to the Israeli champs, the last two of which took place at the last two Final Fours. It also ended Maccabi's 15-game home-court winning streak in Euroleague games, which dated back to January 2006. Igor Rakocevic scored 16 of his game-high 19 points in the first quarter as Tau surged ahead. Strong minutes from Nikola Vujcic and Lior Eliyahu led Maccabi back in the second half, but Serkan Erdogan caught fire down the stretch and Rakocevic killed the game with a clutch triple to give Tau a tough road win. The visitors were playing without head coach Velimir Perasovic, who was hospitalized this week with chest pains. Assistant coach Natxo Lezcano picked up the win in his first game on the sidelines. Edogan finished with 14 and Tiago Splitter came off the bench for 12. Tau's star power forward Luis Scola suffered from foul trouble and was held to 8 points in 21 minutes. Eliyahu led Maccabi with 17, Tal Burstein added 13 and Vujcic flirted with a triple double, posting 12 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists.

Maccabi came out with a new-look lineup, with Noel Felix and Goran Jeretin starting for the first time all season. The hosts won the opening tip and scored first through a Vujcic hook. Rakocevic put Tau on the board and Kaya Peker soon followed to give the visitors the lead. Vujic fed Felix inside to tie it, but the game was more about defense at this point. Tau was able to shut Maccabi down, with Peker drawing an offensive foul from Jeretin, while Rakocvic's three and Pablo Prigioni's steal and layup quited the crowd and caused Maccabi coach Neven Spahija to take his first timeout with the hosts trailing 4-13. Eliyahu came off the bench and scored on the next two possessions, thanks to dishes from Vujcic and Will Bynum, respectively. Vujcic drilled a triple and Eliyahu drew an offensive foul from Frederick House to get back in the game. Rakocevic and Jeretin traded triples, but Scola's jumper made it 16-23. Vujcic scored and drew a foul from Scola for a three-point play, and after Rakocevic hit a mid-range jumper, Derrick Sharp buried a triple to close the gap to 3, however Rakocevic had the last word, ending the period with a triple over Sharp to make it 24-30.

Lior Elihayu - Maccabi EliteErdogan started the second for Tau with a triple and then he drove on Vujcic to make it 26-35. Splitter's first hoop then gave the visitors their first double-digit advantage. Maccabi was effective at drawing fouls, but not so much at making the free throws, however the Tau attack slowed with Rakocevic resting. Each team scored only 8 points in the first 8-and-a-half minutes of the period, until Jamie Arnold slammed home Sharp's miss to make it 34-38. Arnold then corrected Vujcic's missed jumper and made the free throw to bring Maccabi within 1, and that's how it remained after 20 minutes, with Tau leading 37-38.

Sharp started the second half with a three to give Maccabi its first lead since the first minute. Sharp then drew an offensive foul from Peker and Vujcic threw a no-look pass to Eliyahu to bring the crowd to its feet. House answered with a three, but after Rakocevic stumbled and lost the ball and Eliyahu dunked at the other end, Maccabi was in control. House went baseline, but Maccabi went to Eliyahu again, who scored and drew Scola's third foul, forcing the Tau star to the bench with the hosts on top 48-43. Burstein increased the Maccabi lead to 7 with a pair of free throws midway through the period. Erdogan's triple and then a Peker free throw carried Tau back to within 1 before Arnold, fresh from replacing Eliyahu, sank a one-hander and Jeretin penetrated for 2 more. Burstein's high-flying block of House's break-away layup prevented Tau from tying the score, but instead Erdogan rifled one from long-range to return the lead to the visitors and Splitter slammed one on the offensive glass to put Tau ahead 54-57 with 10 minutes to play.

Arslan, Erdogan and Peker - Tau CeramicaSplitter put a hook over Vujcic to start the fourth, but Burstein quickly answered for Maccabi. Ender Arslan's first points for Tau increased the lead to 6, but on the next play Scola was whistled for his fourth foul and returned to the bench. However even without its star, Tau had a red-hot Erdogan, whose fourth three of the night made it 56-65. After a Tel Aviv timeout, Burstein and Simas Jasaitas brought Maccabi back to minus-5. Splitter scored inside,but the Burstein popped a three and Vujcic drew Splitter's fourth foul and made a free throw to cap an 8-2 spurt as the scoreboard showed 64-67 midway through the fourth quarter. Splitter scored inside and after some Maccabi mis-haps, Peker added one from the line to put Tau up 6 with 4 minutes remaining. Vujcic spotted Sharp for a clutch triple, but Prigioni answered with the same. After Eliyahu made one-of-two from the line, Rakocevic stepped up with his first points since the first quarter to bury Maccabi's last hopes. The hosts last-ditch efforts in the final minute were futile as Tau celebrated a big win to start the Top 16.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Frankie Sachs, Euroleague.net
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Referees: LAMONICA, LUIGI (ITA), SUTULOVIC, ZORAN (MNE), CHRISTODOULOU, CHRISTOS (GRE)
Attendance: 10500
By Quarter1234
Maccabi Elite24131714
Tau Ceramica3081922
End of Quarter1234
Maccabi Elite24375468
Tau Ceramica30385779
Maccabi Elite
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 BYNUM, WILL 18:00   0/1 0/2     2 2 4   2     3 1 -1
5 FELIX, NOEL 4:00 2 1/1 0/1             1     2   -2
6 SHARP, DERRICK 28:45 9 0/4 3/3   1 2 3 1 2 3     3 1 6
7 VUJCIC, NIKOLA 35:45 12 3/9 1/2 3/5 2 8 10 8 2 1     3 6 25
8 ELIYAHU, LIOR 24:45 17 7/10   3/8 3 4 7 3   3 1   2 6 21
9 ARNOLD, JAMIE 9:45 7 3/4   1/1 1   1     1     2 2 6
10 BURSTEIN, TAL 29:15 13 3/4 1/2 4/4 1 4 5   2 5 1   2 3 15
11 SHASON, SHARON DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
13 JASAITIS, SIMAS 21:00 2 1/2 0/3           2       3   -3
14 GREEN, YANIV 4:00 1     1/2           1     1 1 -1
15 JERETIN, GORAN 16:15 5 1/2 1/2   1 1 2     2     3 1 1
21 HALPERIN, YOTAM 8:30     0/1         1              
Team           1 2 3   6           9
Totals 200:00 68 19/37 6/16 12/20 10 23 33 17 14 19 2 0 24 21 76
        51.4% 37.5% 60%
Head coach: SPAHIJA, NEVEN
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Tau Ceramica
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 SCOLA, LUIS 20:45 8 3/5   2/3   5 5 1   1     4 3 9
5 PRIGIONI, PABLO 27:45 7 1/2 1/4 2/2 2   2 4 3 2     2 2 10
8 RAKOCEVIC, IGOR 21:15 19 2/3 5/6         1 1 1         18
9 VIDAL, SERGI 17:15 2 1/1 0/2     2 2 1 2 1         4
11 ERDOGAN, SERKAN 26:00 14 1/3 4/8     1 1 2   1     1 4 13
12 TELETOVIC, MIRZA 7:45     0/1     2 2     1     2   -2
14 PEKER, KAYA 26:15 5 1/2   3/8 2 5 7 4 1 2   1 4 7 11
20 ESLAVA, ARIEL DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
21 SPLITTER, TIAGO 24:45 12 5/8   2/5 3 2 5 1 2 3     4 4 11
32 HOUSE, FRED 16:00 9 1/3 1/3 4/6   4 4 2 2 1   1 2 3 10
33 ARSLAN, ENDER 12:15 3 0/1 1/1         1 1 1     2 1 2
Team           1 1 2   7           9
Totals 200:00 79 15/28 12/25 13/24 8 22 30 17 19 14 0 2 21 24 95
        53.6% 48% 54.2%
Head coach: LEZCANO, IGNACIO
This game has no play by play yet

Head Coaches

SPAHIJA, NEVEN
Maccabi Elite
“After 10 days of good practice we expected to play better. We knew Tau is a good team and it will be difficult, but we believed we'll win the game. One more time we couldn't find the momentum and the best five players that will bring us another victory in Euroleague. Congratulations to Tau. They played very consistently. During the game once again we showed two totally different faces. I know that we did very bad job when we lost the cup but after the 10 days I'm really proud of my players. I told my players never to give up and always believe. We can't miss so many open shots and free throws and make many turnovers. Maybe the problem is with me, because in practice it works good. I used all my knowledge in basketball in the last 10 days.”
LEZCANO, IGNACIO
Tau Ceramica
"We scored a lot of points in the first quarter, but it's not the way we wanted to play. In the second quarter we played better defense but we didn't score well. We knew that if we allow an offensive style game with 100 points, we would have probably lost. We prepared to play with more patience and tough defense. That's what we did in the last two quarters. All my players played very good, and I'm very happy. Igor Rakocevic didn't play the defense I wanted him to play, although he scored many points. It wasn't the kind of game that I wanted to play."

Players

VUJCIC, NIKOLA
Maccabi Elite
“We put ourselves in a very difficult situation, for sure if we want to win the first place in the group. There are still five more games to go and it's not over. They scored in crazy percentages from the field, especially in the first and last momemnts of the game. They are a very good team, and we tried to do our best. I don't believe it's the best we can play, we can still improve.”
HOUSE, FRED
Tau Ceramica
“It feels very good to win on their court. We are putting ourselves in a good position for first place. I don't think it was easy. They had six people around the court – five players and the sixth was the their crowd who made it very difficult for us. I think that we did good down the stretch. It's never the end for Maccabi. It is a great team and a great name. Even though Parker and Maceo went to the NBA, they have a good team. It's been kind of hard for them to fill the places with new players, but there's till time to improve. It's not how you start, it's how you finish.”
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