Maccabi Electra bested Belgacom Spirou 69-59
Despite controlling the game in the first quarter, it was a much fought home win for Maccabi Electra on Thursday night as it defeated Belgacom Spirou by 69-59. The hosts led 22-11 after 10 minutes, but Demond Mallet led the guests into a solid comeback that had them ahead by 50-54 after 30 minutes. However, a starting 10-0 to the last quarter was good enough for Maccabi to pull the final win. With the win, Maccabi improves to 4-1 to keep leading Group C while Spirou drops to 1-4 and will finish the first leg of the regular season in last place. Lior Eliyahu led the way for the winners with 15 points and David Blu added 12 behind 4 of 7 threes. For Spirou, Mallet led all scorers with 18 points and Chris Hill helped him with 15. Justin Hamilton had 6 points and 10 boards.
Shawn James rose high on the offensive glass and came away with a basket-plus-foul before blocking a shot on the other end in his first Euroleague start. Jiri Welsch fed Justin Hamilton to get Spirou on the scoreboard before Lior Eliyahu exploited a double team to find Langford for a slam. Lior Eliyahu was active in the fast offense of Maccabi scoring also as he soon was up to 6 points to lead his team to a 9-4 edge. He had his match in Demond Mallet who scored from everywhere, including a three for 11-9 as he was already up to 7 points. The Maccabi defense was intimidating most of the times as Shawn James blocked Tornike Shengelia's shot and on the other end David Blu blasted a three and then Richard Hendrix appeared with a putback for 17-9. After timeout for Spirou however, Blu punished the rim of the guests with his second three. Chris Hill stopped the 11-0 run with a nice drive as the game reached the end of the first period with a 22-11 Maccabi edge.
In the second quarter Spirou made a stand. First, Jiri Welsch had a basket plus foul situation and then Chris Hill joine din with two straight threes that made it 22-20 in the blink of an eye, while in the defensive end, veteran Andre Riddick stopped the whole Maccabi team almost by himself. Theo Papaloukas broke the spell with two free throws and an assist to James to give the hosts some air, but Chris Beghin had his own three-point play to keep Spirou on the chase, 26-23 as the switching defenses of the guests were now putting Maccabi under pressure. Hill made it a one-point game and then Beghin turned around in the paint to put Spirou ahead for the first time, 26-27. Yogev Ohayon appeared with a three to save Maccabi again and then fast ball circulation by Keith Langford allowed Eliyahu for a dunk that sent the fans on a frenzy. Maccabi had recovered a small cushion but Mallet's bank three-point shot and an unsportsmanlike foul called on Sofo Schortsanitis that sent Caleb Green to the line, saw how Spirou was tying the game again, 33-33, with less than one minute to go. Langford swirled four a basket plus foul but he failed to hit the free throw and Mallet punished that with a long jumper that tied the game at 35-35 at the break. Mallet was up to 12 points.
The third quarter saw Maccabi with a different attitude. Blu started with one of his threes for Maccabi and then Schortsanitis and Farmar joinde the fun with two more baskets as the defense of the hosts was now forcing steals all the way. Only Justin Hamilton seemed active for Spirou in offense but then Green also appeared and allowed the guests to pull within 43-41 again. Mallet and Eliyahu resumed the scoring duel of the first minutes as both made the score progress towards 50-45 after Eliyahu's three-point play. Spirou had energy for a last blow in the quarter and hit a 0-9 run started by Riddick and capped by Hill's five points that sent the game to the end of the third quarte with a 50-54 Spirou edge.
The decisive period started with Maccabi on fire as it was soon up to a 7-0 burst sparked by Hendrix and capped by another Blu triple making it 57-54. Defenses prevailed now as the clock advanced an Spirou was not able to score any points, but neither could Maccabi and the game entered its last five minutes. Eventually the hosts scored again to extendthe run to a 10-0 as Devin Smith slammed the ball. With less than five minutes to go, Beghin finally filled the basket and kept Spirou alive, 60-56, but Smith had the same answer: another slam. Green finally woke Spirou up for good with his three but then the big figure of Schortsanitis appeared in offense, hitting a strong layup in the paint, and then in defense by tipping away a ball that was going in as Maccabi was dominating by 65-59 with 1:21 to go. Sofo missed this time as Maccabi tried to play long, but in the other end nobody seemed to take responsibility to shoot the ball in Spirou and Green turned the ball over with 41 seconds to go. Two more free throws by Ohayon put the game on ice, 67-59 with 27 seconds to go as the Maccabi fans celebrated a new win.
Thursday, November 17, 2011