Maccabi Electra clinched a berth to the Top 16 and remained a contender for first place in Group A after downing Le Mans 73-87 on Thursday night. Maccabi was in control throughout the game as it seemingly scored at will on the break and in transition. The visitors led by 9 by the end of the opening period and expanded it to 15 in the second period before settling for a 36-49 halftime advantage. Maccabi upped it to 18 in the third quarter and Le Mans never got closer than a dozen the rest of the way. The trio of Carlso Arroyo, Lior Eliyahi and Omri Casspi paced the winners with 19 points apiece. Arroyo added 7 assist, while Eliyahu grabbed 10 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double. Marcus Brown added 14 for Maccabi, which improved to 5-3 and is tied for third place in the group with Cibona. Brian Chase led Le Mans with 17 points, Dewarick Spencer added 14 and Alain Koffi and Maleye Ndoye posted 12 each. Koffi also had 11 rebounds as Le Mans became the only remaining winless team in the competition.
Marcus Brown drew a foul down low and sank a pair of free throws to start the scoring before Spencer buried a three-pointer for Le Mans. Maccabi continued to attack the basket while Le Mans chose to fire away from downtown, but neither team was overly successful in the opening minutes. Casspi drew fouls on the break twice and sank all 4 free throws to help Maccabi take a slim lead, but Koffi’s second long jumper kept it close. Marcus Brown scored Maccabi’s first three, but the team’s starting center, Yaniv Green, committed his second foul and took a seat leading to Elton Brown’s Maccabi debut. Koffi shook the rim with a powerful two-handed jam, but Macacbi’s quick forwards continued to create opportunities in transition and baskets by Eliyahu and Casspi followed by a Tal Burstein layup made it 13-21 and led to a Le Mans timeout. Ndoye came off the bench to drill a three only for Eliyahu and Casspi to each score and make it 16-25 after 10 minutes.
Ndoye got Le Mans going with another three to start the second period, only for Casspi to match him in style. Casspi was then knocked to the floor by Antoine Diot while leading a fast break and the referee whistled an unsportsmanlike foul. Casspi knocked down his free throws to give Maccabi its first double-digit lead. Spencer drained a jumper for Le Mans after which Arroyo sped to the hoop for a Maccabi score. Chase stepped up for the home team with back-to-back three-pointers to cut the deficit to 5 only to see Marcus Brown, Arroyo and Eliyahu to make it 27-40 in no time. J.P. Batista scored down low and David Bluthenthal hit from mid-range as Le Mans looked to come back but Burstein scored twice to keep the Maccabi advantage at 12. Casspi would push the lead to 15 before Ndoye and Spencer made it 36-49 by halftime.
Maccabi set the tone early in the third period as Arroyo scored and Elton Brown added his first Euroleague basket to make it 37-53. Bluthenthal fired in a triple, but before Le Mans could build on that, Arroyo’s crosscourt pass set up a two-handed Eliyahu slam. And shortly after Marcus Brown scored in transition as the lead reached 17. Koffi scored inside and then on the trip downcourt added a free throw. After Marcus Brown made a mid-range jumper, Chase and Arroyo traded triples. Koffi cut the gap to 13 only to see Arroyo hit from downtown and keep Maccabi ahead 49066 at the end of the third period.
Spencer converted a three-point play and Bluthenthal scored on the offensive glass as Le Mans attempted to ignite a late comeback. But Maccabi – with four starters still on the floor – would have none of it. Le Mans managed only to get within 12 on a Chase three-pointer, since the Arroyo-to-Eliyahu passageway remained open for Maccabi. The lead would reach 64-81 before Maccabi eased up. Chase and Spencer narrowed the gap to 73-85 with just under two minutes to play and the last minute saw both teams empty the benches before the final buzzer.
Thursday, December 18, 2008