Maccabi blitzed Union Olimpija 65-83
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv clinched a spot in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Quarterfinal Playoffs by thrashing Union Olimpija 62-83 in front of 13,000 fans at Stozice Arena in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Thursday. Maccabi improved to 3-1 and made it to the next round along with Euroleague reigning champion Regal FC Barcelona, first at 4-0. Both teams meet again at Nokia Arena next week in a direct battle to win this group. Olimpija dropped to 1-3 and ran out of chances to reach the playoffs. Doron Perkins, Jeremy Pargo and Lior Eliyahu paced the winners with 16 points apiece. David Blu added 15 on 5-of-8 three-pointer for Maccabi. Giorgi Shermadini led the hosts with 13 points. Kenny Gregory added 11 while Vlado Ilievski and Goran Jagodnik each had 10 for Olimpija, that trailed 19-22 after 10 minutes. Jagodnik and Shermadini took over in the second quarter to make Olimpija get a 41-33 halftime lead. Pargo and Perkins fueled a 0-13 run that gave the guests the lead for good, 43-50. Outstanding defense allowed Maccabi to use a 0-16 run to seal the outcome, 51-74, allowing the guests to get back home ready for the big showdown against Barcelona.
Perkins got Maccabi going with a three-pointer from the top of the key but Gregory got the crowd involved with a dunk and finished a great team play with a layup, good for a 4-3 Olimpija lead. Chuck Eidson quickly found his first points but Damir Markota followed free throws with a corner triple to give the hosts a 9-5 lead. Sofoklis Schortsianitis scored down low but Ilievski joined the three-point shootout. Eliyahu scored in transition but an unstoppable Markota immediately answered with a fast break dunk, good for a 14-9 Olimpija lead. It didn't last long, however, as Schortsianitis split free throws and Pargo struck from downtown to get Maccabi within 14-13. Jagodnik scored around the basket but back-to-back baskets by Milan Macvan soon allowed Maccabi to regain the lead, 16-18. Perkins shined with a driving basket that Jan Span bettered with a three-pointer. A layup by Schortsianitis allowed Maccabi to get a 19-22 lead after 10 minutes
Maccabi went scoreless for more than 3 minutes in the second quarter, as Olimpija, pushed by an incredible crowd, was all over the place in defense. The hosts found a go-to guy in Jagodnik, who followed a five-meter jumper with a bomb from downtown to give Olimpija a 24-22 lead. A huge block by Shermadini allowed Jagodnik to sink a triple in transition that set the crowd on fire, 27-22. Ilievski capped a 10-0 Olimpija run with a second-chance jumper, as a dunk by Richard Hendrix got Maccabi within 29-24. Saso Ozbolt shined with a driving layup and Markota scored in a lighting quick transition to make it a nine-point game, 33-24. Eliyahu sank an off-balance shot and Blu nailed a corner triple to give Maccabi some fresh air at 33-29. Pargo downed a step-back jumper and matched Shermadini's dunk with free throws for a 35-33 Maccabi deficit. Gregory scored off a spin move in the low post while Shermadini followed a jumper with a wild put-back dunk to fix the halftime score at 41-33.
Perkins took over with a fast break dunk right after the break and Pargo added a follow-up layup to bring Maccabi within 41-37, as Olimpija called timeout to adjust its offense. Markota made free throws but Eliyahu erased those with an easy dunk and soon added his trademark baseline jumper to make it a two-point game, 43-41. Blu nailed a seven-meter bomb from the top of the key and Pargo added an acrobatic driving layup to complete Maccabi's comeback, 43-46. Olimpija kepty struggling against Maccabi's matchup zone defense and Perkins provided another highlight with an outstanding dunk. Perkins capped a game-changing 0-13 run with free throws, as Shermadini tried to change the game momentum with a big slam. Eliyahu buried another baseline jumper that Shermadini erased with a put-back basket but Perkins fed Eidson for a dunk and split free throws for a 47-55 Maccabi lead. Ozbolt sank free throws to bring Olimpija within 49-56 after 30 minutes.
Olimpija needed a quick comeback to keep its options alive but Maccabi kept dominating the game with outstanding defense. Eidson shined with a power dunk over Jagodnik that Gregory erased with a layup. Eliyahu sank a floating jumper in the lane while Perkins added an off-balance basket in transition that broke the game open, 51-63. Olimpija called a much-needed timeout but Maccabi kept rolling. Pargo took over with a tomahawk dunk, as Maccabi's defense had limited the hosts to just 10 points in 15 minutes. Eliyahu scored again and Blu buried a wide open three-pointer that sealed the outcome, 51-70, with under 6 minutes left. Free throws by Perkins capped a 0-16 run that made it a 23-point game, 51-74. Everything was said and done already, as Maccabi cruised to a big road win and earned the right to keep fighting for Euroleague glory. Meanwhile, Olimpija will try to please its fans with a final home win against Lottomatica Roma next week to cap an overall fantastic performance at Stozice Arena.
Thursday, February 17, 2011