They were talking about a crisis when Maccabi lost a couple games in a row last week, but the Israeli champs and their 10,000 supporters had other ideas on Thursday. With Group B upstart Montepaschi Siena in town, Maccabi turned on its turbo boosters and didn't stop skyrocketing until it had a 107-81 blowout victory to show the Tel Aviv fans. All the Maccabi big guns came to play, with Marcus Goree leading them with 18 points. Tal Burstein had 17, Derrick Sharp fired in 16 and big men Nikola Vujcic and Huseyin Besok 15 and 12, respectively. Quincy Lewis had 12, too, and Beno Udrih 11. All that was necessary to hold back Siena's stars, including Mirsad Turkcan with 22 points, Dusan Vukcevic with 20 and Alphonso Ford with 16. The result draws both teams even in the Group B standings at 1-1.
Siena kept its head above water for the first 10 minutes, giving everything it got from Maccabi. If Goree was already getting his points inside for the home team, Roberto Chiacig was also busy under the basket for Siena and Alphonso Ford was warming up with three-pointers. Still, some trends were already developing, especially on the boards, where Maccabi's group effort, led by Besok and Vujcic, was limiting Siena. By the end of the half, Maccabi would enjoy as many offensive rebounds as Siena had on defense, a development that would lead by the conclustion of 40 minutes to Maccabi making a total of 76 field goal tries to just 47 for Siena. Still, in the early going, Siena was able to stay close at 20-21 after 10 minutes.
Things started to change actually late in the first quarter, when Derrick Sharp hopped off the bench for Maccabi. First, he put handcuffs on Ford, limiting his shots and forcing turnovers. On the offensive end, Sharp sparked Maccabi's first big run, 10-0, and ended up scoring 8 points in the second quarter and the home team surged ahead. Goree was unstoppable, too as his points pushed into double digits. And then Quincy Lewis punctuated the run with a four-point play, as he changed his three-pointer before shooting, drew a foul on Chiacig and sank the resulting free throw, too. When the quarter was over, Maccabi could boast an 11-point lead, 47-36, not to mention the same eadvantage in rebounds, 26-15.
The scoring didn't stop in the third quarter, for either side as it turned out, but that didn't let Siena get any closer. If Turkcan was back to doing what he does best for Siena, Vujcic had now recovered from a bad-shooting first half to pick up his end of the scoring spree. The points were pouring in at such a pace on both sides, that Siena was able to theaten from 6 points behind on a couple occasions in the third quarter. Vujcic ended one of those threats with 5 consecutive points and Beno Udrih ended the other, with two driving layups and a three-point assist to Sharp. That was the last play of the quarter and Maccabi still was up by 11, 74-63. The drama didn't last long in the fourth quarter as Udrih, Vujcic and Tal Burstein all rattled in three-pointers as the Maccabi lead rolled over 20 points. A basket by Vujcic crowned the evening by making it 93-71 and allowing the sea of Maccabi fans, so worried about their boys a week ago, celebrate for the final 5 minutes of a victory that put things right again in Tel Aviv.
Thursday, October 17, 2002