Bennet Cantu defeated Maccabi Electra 82-74
Bennet Cantu protected its home court with an 82-74 victory over Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv on Thursday at Pala Desio that sets the stage for huge rematch next week in Israel. Vladimir Micov shined with 17 points and 9 assists and Ginaluca Basile buried 4 big three-pointers en route to 14 points for the hosts, who could potentially advance to the playoffs with a win next week. Cantu led practically all night – Maccabi’s only lead lasted a matter of seconds in the second quarter. Maccabi kept it close much of the game and was within 1 late in the third quarter before Giorgi Shermadini helped Cantu push ahead 70-60 early in the fourth. Maccabi rallied again and Demond Mallet’s three-point attempt that went in and out would have made it 72-71. Instead Basiel hit a three and later Maarty Leunen did the same as the hosts rolled to the win. Shermadini finished with 13 points and Manu Markoishvili added 11 points and 7 rebounds for the winners, who are now 2-1 in Group H. Keith Langford paced Maccabi with 16 points and Richard Hendrix added 15 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots as Maccabi dropped to 1-2.
Maccabi used a new starting lineup with veteran Theo Papaloukas at point guard. Cantu won the opening tip and went ahead quickly on a Leunen triple. Papaloukas fed Schortsanitis in the paint for the visitors’ first points. An active Micov got in for a three-point play and Leunen found Denis Marconato inside on mismatches to make it 10-4. Big Sofo was Maccabi’s first choice on offense and he went over Marconato to close to 12-8. Basile connected from downtown, but Papaloukas fed a wide-open David Blu for a three at the other end. The fast pace and constant cheering from the Cantu fans added to the superb atmosphere. Yogev Ohayon came in and hit a jumper from the middle of the lane to keep Maccabi within 4. Andrea Cinciarini penetrated for a tough basket and Micov nailed a long jumper as the hosts looked to pull away. Ohayon drove for a pretty score only to see Micov dish to Shermadini. But at the other end, Langford went up fearlessly for a three-point play that brought the Israeli champs within 23-20 after 10 minutes.
Maccabi went in front early in the second quarter on a bucket inside from Schortsanitis and an Ohayon steal that led to a Lior Eliyahu layup. Markoishvili hit from three-point land to put the hosts back ahead briefly until Eliyahu evened the score at 26-26. Shermadini went through Blu for a basket-plus-foul. Langford soon countered with a triple to beat the shot clock, but Micov answered from downtown. Nicolas Mazzarino attacked Tal Burstein for a basket-plus foul and a Markoishvili steal and layup suddenly had the hosts up by double figures and Maccabi head coach David Blat calling for timeout. The momentum remained with the hosts as Langford missed a fast break layup and instead Leunen fed Shermadini for a slam and a 43-31 lead. A Langford three and Hendrix’s basket underneath cut the deficit down to 7. A clever pass from Eliyahu to a cutting Burstein made it 47-42. Free throws by Micov and Hendrix left the scoreboard at 49-44 at halftime.
Langford sank a jumper to open the second half. Basile bettered him with a three-pointer. Blu narrowed the gap with two baskets from close range, but Basile came right back with a three to make it 55-50. After a timeout, Eliyahu spun in the paint for a one-handed score. Micov continued to lead the hosts and added 2 more free throws. Demond Mallet’s first points of the game came from a three-pointer in the corner to close the gap to 57-55. Hendrix impressed with a spin move and a two-handed jam to make it a 1-point game. Shermadini pushed back for Cantu with a pair of free throws and then Micov hit a three. The back-and-forth thrills continued with a Mallet triple and then one from Greg Brunner to make it 66-60 heading into the fourth quarter.
A Shermadini jumper brought about cheers and after the center stopped Schortsanitis, he got to the line to lift the hosts to 70-60. Hendrix came in to replace Schortsanitis and immediately scored on a tip-in. Smith added a Maccabi basket, Hendrix rejected Shermadini and then the momentum swung all the way to Maccabi when Mazzarino commited an unsportsmanlike foul on a breaking away Langford, whose free throws made it a 4-point game. Hendrix denied Shermadini once more, so Cantu went to the bench for Marconato, who scored to make it 72-66. Mallet tried a triple that went in and out and instead Basile nailed his fourth three to swing the pendulum back to Cantu, 75-68. A long Markoishvili jumper with three-and-a-half minutes to play put the hosts firmly in control. And after Hendrix free throws, a Leunen triple made it a 10-point game. Langford got to the basket for a three-point play, but a Basile jumper just about iced the game with two minutes to go. Marconato fouled out with 1:11 to go, but left to a standing ovation as the home crowd started to celebrate a huge win.
Thursday, February 2, 2012