| Maroussi BC advanced to the Top 16! Maroussi will play in the Top 16 for the first time in club history after downing Maccabi Electra 83-75 in a must-win game in Athens on Thursday. Stevan Nadjfeji drained a pair of triples and Jamon Lucas hit two jumpers during a 14-0 fourth-quarter charge that ended a close game and set the stage for Maroussi to win. Maroussi finished Group C with a 4-6 record, edging Lottomatica Roma for fourth place. Maccabi dropped to 6-4 and must settle for third place. Maccabi led for most of the first three quarters, but Maroussi always stayed close. Perkins opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer, however that would be the club’s final highlight as Maroussi soon reeled off its game-winning run and celebrated a Top 16 berth. Kostas Kaimakoglou led six Maroussi scorers in double figures with 18 points. Jared Homan shined with 14 points and 10 rebounds and Michalis Pelekanos had 11 points and 9 boards as the hosts outrebounded Maccabi 40-33. Lucas finished with 12 points and 6 assists and Nadjfeji and Billy Keys added 10 points apiece. Doron Perkins led Maccabi with 18 points and 5 assists off the bench, Alan Anderson scored 13 and David Bluthenthal had 10 in defeat.
Andrew Wisniewski penetrated early and D’Or Ficher put Maccabi ahead with a tip-in. Anderson doubled Maccabi’s lead with a layup in transition. Pelekanos used the pick-and-roll to get to the basket for Maroussi’s first points three minutes into the game, but Anderson fed Fischer to keep Maccabi ahead. Homan and Anderson traded baskets. Kaimakoglou made free throws on back-to-back possession to tie the score before scoring over Anderson to give the hosts their first lead, 10-8. Bluthenthal countered with a three-pointer. Homan blocked Anderson underneath, but Fischer grabbed the rebound and slammed it home. Homan had trouble scoring in the paint and Chuck Eidson added to the Tel Aviv lead. Homan drilled a foul-line jumper. Fischer fed Bluthenthal for a score underneath and Eidson threw in a one-handed floater that gave Maccabi a 12-19 lead after 10 minutes.
Maroussi managed to slow the pace down again and chip into Maccabi’s lead through free throws by Homan and a Kaimakoglou basket. Wisniewski drove to get Maccabi’s first points of the quarter. Billy Keys hit a pull-up jumper, but Wisniewski matched him with a layup. Dimitrios Mavroeidis muscled his way to a score and Stephane Lasme got on the board with a free throw at the other end. Keys drilled a triple to bring the hosts within 23-24 midway through the quarter. Perkins’s steal and slam kept Maccabi on top. Lasme took a pass from Anderson and slammed it and then got one from Perkins for an impressive two-handed jam. After three scoreless minutes, Maroussi heated up as and Pat Calathes nailed back-to-back three-pointers from opposite corners to bring their team within 1. Anderson answered from the line before Lucas hit a jumper. Bluthenthal handed off to Perkins for a baseline jumper that gave the visitors a 31-34 edge at the break.
Homan made it a 1-point game with free throws to start the second half and tied the game the same way a minute later. Anderson took the ball in the post and spun for a slam, but Kaimakoglou used a nifty move to keep it knotted. Bluthenthal drilled a three-pointer, but Pelekanos drove for a score and then dished to Homan as Maroussi took a 40-39 lead. The lead switched hands as Perkins scored a layup and Kaimakoglou nit a three. Wisniewski penetrated to tie the game at 43-43. Lucas spotted a wide-open Homan for an easy score and Kaimakoglou extended the lead to 4 from the line. Anderson willed his way to the basket for Maccabi, but Yaniv Green sent Pelekanos to the line and he kept Maroussi in control. Guy Pnini drew a foul shooting a three and buried 2 free throws before Perkins grabbed the rebound on the missed third free throw and fed Bluthenthal to tie the score. Maroussi went back on top on a Lucas free throw, but Anderson found a cutting Green for a basket-plus-foul and a Maccabi lead. Homan’s tip-in gave Maroussi the lead before Perkins tied the score at 53-53 at the end of the third quarter.
Perkins opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer only to see Marios Batis score a quick layup. Perkins fed Eidson for a score, but Mavroeidis kept Maroussi close. Pelekanos put the hosts back on op with a three-pointer and Nadjfeji made it 63-58 with another three. Lucas added a jumper and Nadjefeji hit a three as Maroussi pulled away. Lucas made another jumper to cap a 14-0 run that made it 69-58. Perkins ended a five-and-a-half-minute-long scoring drought for Maccabi from the line and soon added a layup, but Mavroeidis calmed the local fans with a free throw. Perkins added 2 more free throws and Anderson nailed a three to make it 72-66. Nadjefeji swished 2 free throws and Perkins only 1 as Maroussi drew closer to the next stage. Even when news reached the arena that CSKA won and Maccabi could not advance to second place in the group, the visitors continued to fight. Derrick Sharp nailed a pair of threes in the final minute, but it was too little, too late as Maroussi sealed the win and the club’s greatest European feat to date.
Thursday, January 14, 2010