Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv defeated Unicaja 67-83 on Thursday night at the Marten Carpena Arena in Malaga, Spain to move into sole possession of second place in Group B. The Israeli champion recorded its first road win of the season and improved its record to 5-3. Maccabi entered the game tied with Cibona and DKV Joventut for second in the group, but both teams were defeated on Thursday. Yotam Halperin scored a season-high24 points and dished 4 assists to lead the visitors. Simas Jasaitas added 17 and Lior Eliyahu 16 for Maccabi. Daniel Santiago dominated incide for 22 and Carlos Cabezas fired in three threes on his way to 13 for Unicaja. The Spanish champs , who were within one-game of Maccabi before the game, dropped to 3-5, putting them sixth in the group. Maccabi stormed out of the gate and took an early 2-12 lead, but Santiago and Jiri Welsch saw Unicaja close the gap to 19-22 after 10 minutes and Unicaja then tied the game at 27-27. However Maccabi pulled away once more for a 33-40 halftime advantage. Cabezas helped Unicaja take a 4-point lead in the third period, but Maccabi was too good, using Halperin and Eliyahu to race away for good and take the valuable road win.
Maccabi raced out to an early lead with Eliyahu slamming the game´s first points and Nikola Vujcic making the stand up with a big block. Halperin added a free throw and then a layup before Welsch got Unicaja on the board. However Maccabi continued to run, with Halperin draining a triple and another jumper to put Maccabi up 12. After Santiago scored inside, Jasaitas completed a rare four-point play to put Maccabi up 4-16. But Santiago had figured out the Tel Aviv defense and almost single-handedly carried Unicaja back. The big center scored 7 straight points and Welsch capped a 9-0 run with a layup to make it 19-22 at the end of the first quarter.
Welsch continued his strong form with a jumper to start the second period and minutes later Florent Pietrus tied the game at 27-27 with a slam. Maccabi came right back as Vujcic and Noel Felix scored their first points of the game to put the visitors back up 27’35. Unicaja started to press full court, but Derrick Sharp broke the defense and released Halperin for a triple that put Maccabi up 10. But the hosts bore down on defense and used a Santiago free throw and a Cabezas layup to finish the half with his team down 33-40-
The halftime break clearly benefited Unicaja and Cabezas in particular. Berni Rodriguez and Carlos Jiminez set the stage for Cabezas to tie the game at 40-40 with a three-pointer. After a Vujcic layup, Cabezas launched another three to put the hosts ahead. Halpein and Vujcic brought Maccabi right back , however Unicaja was poised for another run. Santiagi scored twice and Cabezas struck from downtown once more to complete an 8-0 charge that made it 51-47. But Maccabi regained the lead on a Jasaitas three and continued to rally. Halperin led an 0-8 run that put shook the home side and put Maccabi up 54-65 after 30 minutes.
Will Bynum and Eliyahu scored to start the fourth period as the visitors´ lead began to look insurmountable. Even when Jiminez scored, Eliyahu pushed Maccabi out to a 57-74 lead. Alfonso Sanchez´s three and Kostas Vasileiadis´s points gave a glimpse of Unicaja´s hopes, but Halperin dashed those and showed Maccabi the way to its first road win of the season.
Thursday, December 14, 2006