Caja Laboral survived a stern test from Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv for an 86-81 win behind All-Euroleague center Tiago Splitter’s career-high 26 points and 7 rebounds. All eyes were on former Maccabi player Lior Eliyahu, who did not disappoint with 12 points and 7 rebounds off the bench for the winners, but it was the play of Splitter and Marcelinho Huertas that led Laboral to its first win in Group C. Next week head coach Dusko Ivanovic's men travel to face Union Olimpija. Maccabi, now also 1-1, hosts CSKA Moscow next. Splitter dominated early and had 19 first-half points in taking his team to a 55-44 halftime lead with plenty of help from Eliyahu. Laboral still led by double digits late in the third quarter when David Bluthenthal showed up. He buried 3 three-pointers in a 0-14 Maccabi charge that gave the visitors a 69-73 lead early in the fourth quarter. The game would remain close after that, but 2 Maccabi missed free throws and a pair of clutch plays by Fernando San Emeterio saw Laboral reclaim control and Maccabi was unable to answer with big plays in the final two minutes. Huertas finished with 16 points – 10 in the last six minutes – and San Emeterio added 12 for the winners. Maciej Lampe led Maccabi with 18 points and 7 rebounds. Chuck Eidson scored 16 and Andrew Wisniewski and Bluthenthal netted 12 apiece. Although Maccabi shot 50% from downtown in making 14 triples – led by Bluthenthal's 4 for 4 – its 14 turnovers compared to the hosts' 8 proved meaningful in the end.
Maccabi won the opening tip and got on the scoreboard first as Yaniv Green drove home an Alan Anderson miss. Green went through Mirza Teletovic for a basket-plus-foul and denied Splitter at the other end for a brilliant individual start to the contest. Eidson drilled a triple to make it 0-8 after 88 seconds as Ivanovic called timeout. Splitter dunked feeds from Carl English and Pau Ribas for the hosts’ first points Another Splitter score inside and a San Emeterio layup and foul on the break competed Laboral’s 9-0 comeback. Wisniewski stepped up with a pair of triples and Laboral scored through Ribas and Splitter as the pace picked up. Lampe buried a three for the visitors to make it 17-19. Laboral switched things up, bringing in Eliyahu, Huertas and Brad Oleson – the latter making his Euroleague debut – however before they had time to adjust, Anderson darted through the Laboral defense for a three-point play. Lampe fed Eidson for a triple to make it 18-25 before Laboral went back to its sure thing, Splitter, who scored his 13th points of the quarter without a miss! Huertas beat the buzzer with a running triple to knot the game at 25-25 after 10 minutes.
Back-to-back Oleson threes – his first Euroleague points – kept the momentum with the hosts early in the second period before Eidson flushed a jumper. After Doron Perkins stole the ball, Huertas was called for an unsportsmanlike foul and following a pair of fre throws and a Wisniewski three, the visitors were ahead again. Stanko Barac reversed that when he took a pass from Olseson for a basket-plus-foul. Vladimir Micov and Bluthenthal traded triples. Eliyahu cut through the Maccabi defense for his first Laboral basket. Eliyahu heated up with two more baskets – the second a slam over D’Or Fischer – to give his team a 43-37 edge. Anderson sank a pair of free throws only to see Eliyahu unveil another move inside for a basket. Splitter free throws and an Eliyahu scoop gave the hosts their first double-digit lead. Splitter capped an 8-0 spurt with 2 more free throws before Lampe answered for Maccabi. Splitter threw in a hook and Eliyahu came up with a steal and slam for a 14-point gap. Lampe fired in a triple to reduce the deficit to 55-44 by halftime.
Lampe opened the second half with a three-pointer and then forced Splitter into his first miss, but the Laboral center grabbed the rebound, scored and drew a foul. The pace was considerably slower in the third quarter than the first two. Maccabi suffered a blow when Anderson was called for his fourth foul less than three minutes into the half. His sub, Raviv Limonad, came in and drove to the basket to cut the gap to 7. Teletovic attacked the offensive glass for a basket, however Lampe further narrowed the Maccabi deficit with his fourth triple and Eidson soared for a pair of layups – the second a pretty finish plus a foul – to make it 63-59 midway through the quarter. Laboral found its footing as San Emeterio got points on a goaltending call and Huertas scored from the line. Splitter restored the hosts’ double-digit lead at the end of a long second-chance attack, though Wisniewski quickly countered from downtown. Stephane Lasme added a free throw and Bluthenthal hit a long three for a 0-7 charge that made it 69-66 at the end of the quarter.
Bluthenthal opened the fourth like he ended the third, with a deep three, to tie the score for the first time since the second quarter. Again Bluthenthal – with his fourth three – and a Perkins free throw finished a run of 14 unanswered points that gave the visitors a 69-73 lead. Huertas sank a triple to end a four-plus minute Laboral scoring drought going back to the pervious period and fire up the home crowd. Splitter tied the game from the line, but Eidson's short jumper put Maccabi ahead again. Both defenses toughened up as the teams each went two trips up and down the court without points before Huertas restored Laboral's edge, 76-75, from downtown. After Lasme tied it from the line, Ribas it a pair of free throws to put Laboral back on top. Huertas stretched the lead to 80-77 with a layup. Lampe answered with a pair of free throws, however San Emeterio stood tall with a put-back basket and drawing an offensive foul from Bluthenthal. A Splitter tip-in with 1:40 remaining not only gave him a career high 26 points, but practically sank Maccabi’s chances. Lampe missed an open three with 35 seconds left and Huertas iced the game from the line, allowing the fans to celebrate Caja Laboral's first win of the season.
Thursday, October 29, 2009