Maccabi Tel Aviv has lived up to its role as Group A heavyweight by winning on the road 63-74 at Charleroi of Belgium behind an inspired performance from swingman Anthony Parker, who led the Israeli champions with 24 points. Parker proved to be the Answer Man whenever Charleroi challenged, especially after an attempt to cut a long-standing Maccabi lead to single digits in the fourth quarter. Center Nate Huffman provided the inside balance to Parker's game with 14 points for the winners. Point guard David Desy and shooter Jim Potter had 15 points each for Charleroi. Maccabi lifts its record to 3-1, tied on wins with Olypiakos at the top of the Group A table. Charleroi is now the only winless team in the group at 0-4.
Veteran Jacques Stas could not start at point guard after all, so David Desy took his place. Charleroi missed its first six shots before Ronald Ellis hit one, by which point Maccabi was ahead 2-7 with 5 points by Tal Burstein. But Charleroi got in the game as Louis Rowe and John Jerome got to the basket and cut the lead to 11-12. Maccabi had to work inside for any openings, which led it to return the ball outside, where Anthony Parker was waiting to make it 11-15. Charleroi was playing a wee-balanced game, however, and on a Desy two-pointer at the buzzer stayed within 15-17, not bad considering 5 turnovers so far by the whole team.
Maccabi stepped on the accelerator in the second quarter, forcing another turnover from young guard Tomas Van de Vondel while taking an 18-26 lead. What was actually making the difference now was Maccabi's defense, which just kept forcing turnovers and bad shots out of Charleroi, which was really missing its general, the injured Stas. The lead hit 20-31 but Charleroi got on the offensive boards and refused to let Maccabi go away (25-31). Derrick Sharpe was feeling it however, and popped his second three-pointer. Charleroi could not reciprocate and nerves set in against its famous opponenet. Rowe got in foul trouble, with his third, while Parker was everywhere on the court, pushing the lead up to 26-40. Again Desy tried to bring back his team (30-40) but it was now McDonald who took the game in his hands, fixing the score at 31-45. Only Desy's second buzzer-beater offered a little hope for the home team, down 34-46 at halftime.
Charleroi started the second half without Engellant on Maccabi center Nate Huffman, who was reluctant to shoot, but not to pass, to Parker and McDonald in particular, as Maccabi lengthened the lead to 37-52. Bozzi had to take a time out because Charleroi was now 1 for its first 6 shots of the quarter. Engellant came back in but the gap was becoming huge, 37-58, as Huffman woke up to some inside scoring. The game seemed already over as Charleroi was unable to rise its level. On the contrary, it was hesitating more and more, with only Jerome still scoring as Maccabi held on 48-64 after the third quarter.
The fourth quarter saw Charleroi going along without much of a threat until Jim Potter came up with back-to-back three-pointers halfway through. Suddenly, that big lead was down to 11, at 57-68. Parker, excellent all game long, took up the responsibility now, too, and made the shots for a 59-72, which was more than enough to dampen the comeback spirit of Charleroi and finish off the road win for Maccabi.
Thursday, November 1, 2001