Maccabi Electra moved ever closer to a ticket to the Top 16 with its first road win of the season, 72-86 at Air Avellino on Thursday. Aggressive play from a trio of big men and a season-high 26 points from Marcus Brown guided Maccabi to the victory. Head coach Pini Gershon’s men improved to 4-3 and are now just one win behind the group leaders. Moreover, Avellino dropped to 2-5 and having lost twice to Maccabi, must win all of its remaining games and have other results go its way to have a chance at reaching the next stage. Avellino kept it close for a period-and-a-half thanks to some red-hot three-point shooting and savvy game management by playmaker Travis Best. But Brown, D’Or Fischer and Yaniv Green helped the visitors take a 40-48 halftime lead and Lior Eliyahu cranked the advantage up to 14 early in the third period. Avellino continued to fight on, but never got closer than 7 after that. Eliyahu followed up last week’s MVP performance with 18 points and 10 rebounds, Fischer posted 17 points and 10 rebounds and Green added 14 points and 7 rebounds. Best paced Avellino with 17, Tamar Slay added 14 and Marko Tusek scored 13. All three made 3 three-pointers.
Maccabi won the opening tip and Carlos Arroyo pulled up for three, but he missed and Slay made a triple on the other end for the game’s first points. Fischer hit a jumper to get Maccabi on the scoreboard and the Omri Casspi fed Green for a slam and Maccabi’s first lead. Fischer added a basket-plus-foul on the offensive glass to make it 3-7 before Best answered from downtown for the hosts. Slay triple put Avellino ahead before Brown fired one in from behind the arc. Best tied the game at 11-11 with a floater as the pace settled. Eliyahu came off the bench and made an impact with points on four straight possessions – including a wicked slam dunk in traffic – but a Tusek three-pointer and Drake Diener basket kept the hosts close. But penetrations from Tal Burstein and Arroyo pushed Maccabi ahead by 6. Antonio Porta charged the Avellino attack with a jumper and then Diener also scored to make it 20-22 after 10 minutes.
Green fed Brown from the high post for a layup to start the second period, but Tusek bettered that with a triple from the corner. Brown continued to produce at the offensive end for the visitors, but Tusek’s third three kept it a 2-point game. Best and Chris Warren – with his first point of the game – tied the score at 32-32. Eliyahu took a rest and Fischer stepped up with a jumper and some rebounds. Then Green went through Williams for a basket-plus-foul. Diener kept Avellino in the picture with his team’s eighth three-pointer of the half, but Brown free throws and Fischer underneath put Maccabi up 5. Porta and Tusek scored from the line, but a Fischer offensive rebound, slam and foul and a Derrick Sharp three helped Maccabi take a 40-48 lead at halftime.
Eliyahu came out for the second half on fire and his bucket on the offensive glass gave Maccabi its first double-digit lead. Best did his best to keep Avellino from falling apart with a floater and a triple, but a pair of baskets from Eliyahu followed by a Brown three from the corner raised the advantage to 47-61. Warren took advantage of a wild Eliyahu pass for a steal and dunk, but on the next trip downcourt Avellino suffered a blow as Best and Slay each picked up their fourth fouls. Slay remained focused and scored in transition to cut the gap to 10. But Williams became the first to foul out for Avellino before Best beat the third-quarter buzzer with a layup to make it 56-65 heading into the fourth quarter.
Brown started the last period with a triple and then a layup in transition as the lead hit 14 again. Best willed his way to a layup, but Fischer answered with a jumper. After a timeout, Avellino bore down and Slay made another three. The visitors tried to slow the game down, but did not manage to score in their half court sets. Avellino also had trouble, yet Porta managed to make it a 10-point game from the line. Fischer and Andrea Crosariol traded baskets and then Crosariol added a hook to make it 66-74. Slay fouled out and Green pushed the lead back to 10. Free throws from Crosariol and Daniele Cinciarini made it 69-76, but time was starting to run out for the hosts. Brown netted a pair from the line and Green scored inside as the visitors sensed the win. Tusek scored from the line and some sloppy play from Maccabi allowed Avellino a chance to get closer, but Tusek fouled Dror Hagag, whose only points of the game practically iced the win and a two-handed slam by Eliyahu ended any doubts.
Thursday, December 11, 2008