Caja Laboral dominated from start to finish en route to a convincing 94-78 whipping of Maccabi Electra on Thursday at Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria, Spain. David Logan scored 25 to lead six Laboral scorers in double figures. The hosts led by 20 after 10 minutes and by 29 in the third quarter before Chuck Eidson assumed the point guard duties for Maccabi and led a late comeback attempt, but it was not enough to seriously threaten the outcome. Laboral enjoyed a terrific shooting night and made 11 of 24 three-pointers (45.8%), while Maccabi struggled with its shooting all game, finishing 4 for 13 from behind the arc (30.7%) and 12 for 26 from the free throw line (46.1%). Mirza Teletovic produced 16 points and 8 rebounds for Laboral, Martin Rancik scored 12 in his debut, Stanko Barac and Brad Oleson added 11 each and Fernando San Emeterio recorded 10 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Eidson was the lone bright spot for Maccabi with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals. Lior Eliyahu, who helped Laboral win the Spanish League last season, mustered only 4 points in his return.
Maccabi got off to a slow start as Richard Hendrix and Eliyahu found big trouble against Croatian tower Barac. Teletovic opened fire with a three pointer followed by 3 free throws by Barac to give Caja Laboral an early 6-0 lead. The visitrors scored their first basket through the hands of Hendrix, but Oleson answered pretty quickly from downtown to keep a safe margin for the hosts. Laboral kept enjoyed great accuracy from long distance as San Emeterio and Teletovic hit back-to-back threes to give Laboral a double-digit lead, 15-6, midway through the first quarter. An urgent timeout by Maccabi head coach David Blatt came right after that, as well as the first appearance of Sofoklis Schortsanitis, who replaced Hendrix. The Greek center became the first option for Maccabi’s offense, while on defense the team opted for zone. None of this seemed to work for the guests as Logan scored 7 straight points for a 16-point lead with three minutes to go. Teletovic kept digging into Maccabi’s defense, followed by a couple of free throws by Barac to increase the gap to 20, turning the game into a nightmare for the guests. Tal Burstein, David Blu and Yaniv Green took over for Maccabi coming off the bench, but a buzzer-beating bomb by Teletovic closed the quarter with Caja Laboral ahead 31-11.
Blu sank first Maccabi’s three of the night, but Marcelinho Huertas responded on the following play, showing Maccabi that there was no place for relaxation from Laboral. The two teams exchanged baskets as Martin Rancik made his debut with Laboral and scored 4 points in a row to delight the local fans right after he took the court. Schortsanitis seemed to have found a way to break the Laboral defense and got some easy buckets inside, but the three-point accuracy by the Laboral shooters prevented the visitors from reducing the difference. The hosts led 44-23 after midway through the second quarter with an awesome 75% success from the three-point line. Maccabi tried to find a way to change the trend, but the rim looked like cursed for them, even on close shot attempts. Blatt went for a full-court pressure and slowed down the Laboral tempo for a little while, but Rancik came to the rescue pretty quickly with 6 straight points for a 52-29 lead. With the outcome in no doubt, the second quarter ended with a clear margin for Caja Laboral, 57-32, as Maccabi headed the locker rooms looking for a miracle.
Maccabi returned a little more focused after the intermission. The visitors showed more energy on the defensive side, slowing down Laboral’s scoring rhythm in the early minutes. However the main problem was located on the offensive side, as no one looked able to get the hosts’ defense in trouble. Schortsanitis and Eliyahu weren’t consistent under the boards and Maccabi’s backcourt remained ineffective at long distance shooting. Six straight points by Logan put the at a game-high 29. Eidson, playing as point guard after Burstein replaced Pargo, took over for Maccabi and scored a turnaround layup and a three to give some hope. But Logan capped an awesome scoring performance in the third quarter with a couple of free throws for a 76-49 Laboral lead after 30 minutes.
Eidson kept running the show at point for Blatt’s team and it worked fine in the early minutes of the last quarter. Three layups in a row by Green, Hendrix and Burstein fueled a 0-6 run to reduce the gap to 21 points. Caja Laboral head coach Dusko Ivanovic called for an urgent timeout and put Huertas on court again, but Laboral remained scoreless for two more minutes while Guy Pnini and Burstein extended Maccabi’s run to 0-11. The damage turned even more dangerous when Burstein capped a fastbreak with a nice layup, drawing the fifth foul from Barac and bringing his team within 76-62 with six minutes to go. It was San Emeterio from the free throw line who ended the drought for the hosts, who were unable to score from anywhere but from the line. Eidson followed with a basket-plus-foul, quickly answered by another one from Oleson to keep a safe parachute for the hosts, 81-65, with four minutes to go. Eidson kept ruling, feeding Pnini and Blu to reduce the gap to only 13 points. A single free throw by the forward brought Maccabi within 12 points, but time was a non-beatable factor at this point. Oleson and Logan gave some calm to the local fans with 4 free throws and a three pointer by the latter ruined Maccabi’s comeback. Maccabi kept fighting, looking for a smaller point-difference, but Logan capped his excellent game with another basket for a 94-78 home win.
Thursday, October 21, 2010