Another night, another Group A game and another one-point victory by the visitor. Maccabi Tel Aviv has hung on to a piece of first place in this remarkable group with a 64-65 road win at Alba Berlin on Thursday. The result mimicked the three one-point wins by visitors in Group A on Wendesday night and left Maccabi at 6-2, tied with Benetton Treviso for the lead. Alba blew a four-point lead with 3 minutes to play to see its record fall to 3-5. The Berliners were ahead 60-56 when Parker buried a huge three-pointer and Arriel McDonald scored a fastbreak layup to put the visitors up 60-61. Yoav Saffar and Derrick Sharpe scored on a four-point possession for Maccabi, and then Derrick Phelps hit four free throws for Alba. Parker would miss a pair of free throws in the final seconds, but Alba coud not convert in two remaining shots. In an intense game with lots of defense and almost no show-time Phelps was best scorer for Alba with 16 and Parker led Maccabi with 13.
The first half saw Alba's Marko Pesic get into early foul trouble, with a third plus a technical, for four total, within six minutes. Maccabi used the resulting free-throws to go ahead 12-5. But with big points from Wendell Alexis and Dejan Koturovic, the Berliners already after 10 minutes had closed the gap to 16-18. Within a few more minutes, based on 2 three-pointers by Pesic's replacement, Stefano Garris, Alba had gained its first lead, 24-20. Both coaches already in the first half made use of their complete roster. This resulted in many mistakes on both sides and a low scoring second quarter, which Maccabi was able to survive with a 30-31 lead. Alexis for Alba and Arriel McDonald for Maccabi were on 7 points each to lead their teams.
At the beginning of the third quarter ist was on Koturovic who got into foul trouble with his third and fourth and had to sit down. That gave Nate Huffman some more space under the basket, but both teams still did not find their rhythm in the match, at least on the offensive end. Their defenses had set the tone and scoring in this quarter was still dominated by free throws. Now it was Alba who was able to take a one-point lead, 49-48, after 30 minutes.
Finally at the beginning of the final quarter, the game seemed to find a winner: Nate Huffmann received his fourth and fifth fouls in the 33rd minute. Alba came to their running game and went ahead 58-52. With Hüseyin Besok too slow against Koturovic, Maccabi coach David Blatt switched to a small line-up without center, which turned out to be a nice idea. Alba became became nervous in offense and in defense only could stop the now quicker offense of Maccabi with fouls. And although Parker trembled at the foulline, Alba's lead became smaller and smaller.
Thursday, December 13, 2001