Maccabi Tel Aviv will defend its Euroleague title at the Final Four in Moscow after winning a shootout in Pesaro, Italy by 100-103 over host Scavolini on Thursday in Game 2 of their quarterfinals playoff. Maccabi swept the series 2-0, and now goes to Moscow to face winner of the ongoing quarterfinal series between Panathinaikos and Efes Pilsen on May 6. CSKA Moscow and Tau Ceramica will face off in the other semifinal. Nikola Vujcic led the winners with 26 points on 9-for-12 shooting and 6 of 6 free throws, Anthony Parker added 20 points on 6-for-8 shooting and 6 rebounds, Maceo Baston had 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting while Derrick Sharp contributed 15 for Maccabi. Charles Smith led Scavolini with 32 points. Hanno Mottola added 20 points, Scoonie Penn 14 and Robert Archibald 13 points and 8 rebounds for the hosts. Maccabi led most of the way, but it all came down to the final minute, in which Parker made free throws and Baston dunked before Mottola missed a desperation three at the buzzer. Maccabi will try to become the first team in 14 years to defend the European club title.
Robert Archibald slammed to start the game for Scavolini, but Nikola Vujcic immediately hit from downtown for Maccabi's first lead, 2-3. Parker's pull-up shot was eclipsed by a three-pointer from Smith that made it 5-5 after 2 minutes. Then Vujcic decided to step outside and try his luck from the arc again. That shot fell through also, tying him already for his season-high in triples, then Tal Burstein drove for a layup to make it 5-10. Scavolini looked to stay close as Marko Milic floated for a shot in the lane and Tomas Ress buried a jumper that made it 11-14. But the shot by Ress did more than keep Scavolini close. it triggered a 10-0 run in which a pair of baskets by Hanno Mottola and another triple by Smith shot the hosts ahead 19-14. Maccabi wasn't buying it, however, and Parker broke the drought for his team with 4 straight points. After Matteo Malaventura's landed a jumper for the hosts, Nestoras Kommatos scored for Maccabi and Burstein capped the quarter with a mid-court buzzer-beater that put the guests back in front, 21-23, after 10 minutes.
Scoonie Penn retook the lead for Scavolini with a pair of layups to start the second quarte. Again, Maccabi had an answer in Derrick Sharp, who sandwiched a pair of layups around shot from downtown for 7 unanswered points and a 25-30 Maccabi advantage. Vujcic added to the Maccabi advantage by sinking consecutive baskets in response to a duk by Scavolini's Mottola. Then Parker came alive with 6 points in 2 minutes that left the defending champs with their first double-digit lead of the night, 31-42. Scavolini had struggled to beat Maccabi's man-to-man pressure and took a 24-second shot-clock violation, but now Smith and Archibald resurfaced to cut the difference to 35-42. Deon Thomas and Maceo Baston hit 6 free throws to lengthen Maccabi's lead again, to 39-50, but a turnover by the guests let Malaventura covert a buzzer-beater layup that left the halftime score at 41-50.
Scavolini came out strong after halftime and linked baskets by Milic and Penn to a triple by Smith in order to trim the deficit to 6 points, 48-54. Ress with a dunk, Mottola with a jumper and Smith with a slam soon had the hosts just a basket behind, at 54-56. Jasikevicius found his first 2 points then at the foul line, then pushed a fastbreak finished by Sharp to restore a 54-60 Maccabi edge. Only free throws fell for the next few possessions, with 2 by Alessandro Frosini keeping Scavolini within 58-62. But Maccabi accelerated then, and the result was a pair of transition triples by Sharp and Jasikevicius that boosted the lead back to double digits, 58-68. Several minutes of trading baskets for free throws saw Jasikevicius and Parker push the lead to 12 points on thee occasions, but with Ress dunking and Smith matching a triple by Sharp, Scavolini showed it was still playing as it came within single digits again, 69-78, after 30 minutes.
The crowd in Pesaro pushed Scavolini at the beginning of last quarter and Malaventura thanked them with a three-pointer that cut the lead 73-78. Soon, Mottola's pass to Archibald made it a thee-point game, 77-80, with 7 minutes to go. Vujcic responded with a backdoor dunk and Baston lengthened Maccabi's lead again to 77-84, but a whole lot of scoring remained. After Vujcic answered Archibald's foul shots with a basket, Smith reacted with 5 points in a row, dropping the difference to a single basket, 84-86, midway through the quarter. Parker and Vujcic boosted Maccabi ahead by 5 again, 85-90. Mottola got 3 points back on a basket-plus-free throw but Baston imitated him with an incredible three-point play, making it 88-93 with 3 minutes to play. In the next minute, Smith answered Baston's dunk with a layup. Vujcic added free throws to a Maccabi lead that was now 90-97, but almost disappeared Penn and Smith posted a 5-0 run with a three-pointer and a fastbreak layup. It was 95-97 with 50 seconds left. When Jasikevicius missed a triple with 28 seconds left, the rebound battle went to Maccabi's Deon Thomas. Then he, Mottola and Parker made free throws for a 101-97 scoreboard with 17 left. Penn scored an amazing three to cut the lead to 101-100, but Maccabi avoided Scavolini's press and Baston dunked to send the champs on to defend their title at the Final Four.
Thursday, April 7, 2005