Maccabi takes down champs, ties for second place
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv continued its hot run in the second-half of the Top 16 by taking down reigning champion Olympiacos Piraeus 67-73 Friday night at Peace and Friendship Stadium. It was the fifth straight win for the Israeli champs – and fourth on the road – to improve to 7-5 and into a four-way tie for second place in Group F. Olympiacos has the same record, as does Montepaschi Siena and BC Khimki Moscow Region. Maccabi never trailed, pulling away to 13-21 on David Logan’s hot shooting at the end of the first quarter and extending the lead to 18 at halftime. When Ricky Hickman gave the visitors a 39-54 lead late in the third quarter, it looks over for the Reds. However Vassilis Spanoulis ignited a 14-2 run and set up an interesting fourth quarter. However Maccabi stood tall on defense, protected the lead and held on for a critical victory. Logan scored 20 to pace Coach David Blatt’s squad, Hickman netted 16, Devin Smith added 13 – including a huge three with a minute and a half to go – and Shawn James tallied 9 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Spanoulis led the Reds with 19 points and Acie Law added 10.
First quarter: Good outside shooting fires Maccabi ahead
Smith banked in a shot for the game’s first points a minute into the game. Pero Antic’s slam started Olympiacos soon after. The defenses prevailed early with Nik Caner-Medley and Yogev Ohayon using their speed to make it 2-6, before Antic soared in with a fast break slam to tie the game. Ohayon buried a triple; Antic stayed active with a dish to Josh Powell for a slam. Hickman nailed a three and Ohayon went through the Reds’ defense for a layup – after a friendly roll on the rim – and foul. The visitors led 8-15 at the TV timeout. Powell soared to reject Hickman at the rim, but the Reds continued to struggle at the other end. Spanoulis ended a three-minute scoreless spell for the hosts with a mid-range jumper. Powell came off with an undisclosed injury and went straight to the locker room. Kostas Papanikolaou trimmed the deficit to 3 before Logan knocked down a triple for Macccabi. Logan’s second three – a bank shot in the closing seconds of the quarter – made it 13-21 through 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Logan takes charge as visitors fortify lead
James dunked early in the second quarter to give Maccabi its first double-digit lead. Powell returned to the bench wearing a sling, signaling that Giorgi Shermadini would need to play big minutes for the hosts. Logan penetrated to cap a 1-10 Maccabi run. Papanikolaou scored, but for the most part the action revolved around strong defensive showings. Ohayon found Guy Pnini on an inbounds play to make it 15-27 midway through the quarter. Even Pnini’s unsportsmanlike foul on Papanikolaou failed to rally the hosts; a Smith triple put Maccabi up by 14. Spanoulis came alive with threes on consecutive possessions, but Hickman and Logan were up to the challenge. Law used a pretty penetration move to claw 2 back for Olympiacos, but a Logan triple at the other end made it 23-38. Logan silenced the arena with his fourth three-pointer en route to a 23-41 Maccabi lead at the break.
Third quarter: Down 15, Reds rally back
sSloukas tried to ignite the hosts' comeback with a three-pointer immediately after the break. Hickman buried a six-meter jumper but Spanoulis split free throws and downed a corner triple to get the crowd involved at 30-43. James made 1 of 2 foul shots, but a tip-in by Hines and a put-back basket by Spanoulis forced Maccabi to call timeout at 34-44. James kept Maccabi rolling with some rebounds and 2 points from the line. After Spanoulis gifted Kyle Hines a layup, Shermadini rejected James and then got the arena singing again with a slam. However 4 straight Hickman points put the visitors ahead 38-50 midway through the quarter. Hickman and Pnini added more free throws as the lead swelled to 15. Spanoulis looked to turn things around with free throws, a steal and a layup, but Logan silenced the crowd with a long jumper. However Stratos Perperoglou fired them back again with a three and Law added another to trim the deficit to 49-56 through three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Olympiacos gets within 3, but Maccabi hangs on
Shermadini scored inside and Perperoglou added a jumper to cap a 14-2 ruin and bring the Reds right back into the game, down 3. Devin Smith countered with a deep three to make it 53-59. Law and Smith traded scores in the paint, the former with a pretty move and the latter with a tip-in. James scored in the paint to give Maccabi some fresh air, 55-63, midway through the quarter. Hines stepped up with a power layup and a huge block on Smith which allowed Sloukas to strike from downtown and fire up the crowd at 60-63. James scored down low off an inbound pass, but Papanikolaou kept the Reds within 62-65 with 3:34 left. Maccabi could not find open shots, but got three consecutive defensive stops at the other end. Smith, forced into a bad shot, beat the shot clock with an eight-meter three-pointer that silenced the crowd, 62-68, with 1:36 to go. Maccabi got the ball back after an Olympiacos turnover and a driving layup by Hickman made it 62-70. Olympiacos kept trying, and free throws by Spanoulis and a three from Law made it 67-70 with 18 seconds left. The hosts sent Hickman to the line, where he split free throws. However a James steal away from Spanoulis set up Logan for a fast break layup to ice the win, 67-73.
Friday, March 22, 2013