Maccabi Tel Aviv downing Asseco Prokom 72-83
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Asseco Prokom Thursday in Poland 72-83 to finish the Turkish Airlines Euroleague regular season in style. The victory was the ninth straight for Maccabi, the best current streak in the league and Maccabi’s best in five years. Sofoklis Schortsanitis scored 23 points and grabbed 7 rebounds to lead a powerful Maccabi attack that led from start to finish. The hosts were up by double figures in the first quarter and more than 20 in the second en route to the win and a 9-1 record. Chuck Eidson added 13 points and 6 assists, David Blu scored 12, and newcomer Milan Macvan totaled 8 points in his Euroleague debut. Prokom was unable to avenge a Week 5 loss in Tel Aviv and finishes its Euroleague campaign with a 2-8 record. The Polish champs bid farewell with 20 points from Filip Videnov, 13 from Jan Jagla and 11 by Piotr Szczotka.
Maccabi started the game like a runaway train as the visitors played tight defense and went on an 8-0 run thanks to two takeaways and a block that translated into a couple of three-pointers and fast break layup by Jeremy Pargo. Piotr Szczotka stopped the bleeding with a driving bucket for the hosts, but with Pargo pushing the ball and aggressively penetrating the host’s defense and the powerful Schortsanitis imposing his muscle in the paint, the advantage quickly grew to 14-2. Filip Videnov finally hit a triple to cut the lead to 9, but Maccabi was all over the place on defense, forcing 7 first-quarter turnovers by the hosts, and Doron Perkins and David Blu capitalized with fast break layups and dunks until Macvan entered the game and scored on his first touch, a back to the basket post move, for a 8-25 advantage. With Prokom looking to stay in it despite poor shooting, some relief came from Jan Jagla’s wrist, as the forward hit a triple to close the quarter with a more respectable 11-25 deficit for the Polish champs.
Videnov scored on a layup to start the second quarter as Prokom looked to get going on offense, but Macvan scored on his second attempt as a Maccabi player and Tal Burstein followed before Videnov hit a three-pointer to keep the hosts in it at 16-29. But Maccabi kept going to Schortsanitis inside and the big man responded with 14 first half points in a variety of post moves that mixed finesse and power. It was, literally, a load for Prokom center Ratko Varda who, despite defensive help, took a physical toll and was not able to get going on offense, scoring his first points from the line midway through the quarter. As the visitors kept pressing on their own end, tallying a 10-3 half advantage in turnovers and limiting Prokom to 36% shooting, Guy Pnini joined the party with a triple that set the score at 18-42 and a Richard Hendrix layup soon pushed the lead to 25-51. The hosts tried to regroup before the break with a timeout and Matieusz Kostrzewski and Adam Hryzcaniuk scored to cut the lead some, but they still reached halftime with a considerable mountain to climb, at 29-52.
The Group A leaders did not give early signs of letting up, as Schortsanitis rattled home a dunk to start the third quarter, though Prokom did show some resilience, bettering its first half display, and Mike Wilks drained a three pointer to spark an 8-0 run that featured another three by Videnov, his third in the quarter, and a Szczotka jumper. All of a sudden, Prokom looked like a team that had regained its offensive mojo, while also displaying better defensive balance against Maccabi’s attack. As Jagla added height and range to the hosts’ lineup and Szczotka got going, the visitors stiffened on offense, living mostly off Eidson penetrations. With the competitive juices flowing again, Videnov and Perkins traded triples to make it 49-62 score. Videnov was determined to will his team back into it, capping a 12-point quarter with another triple and a baseline layup to get within 57-67 score at the end of the quarter.
With Maccabi still nursing a double-digit lead despite Prokom’s rally, the visitors tried to play sound and were able to make a 7-0 run to start the final quarter, courtesy of a Schortsanitis post move and a Blu three-pointer. Still, Prokom did not despair, with Jagla picking up where Videnov left off and hitting on consecutive triples to keep the margin at 63-76 with six minutes to play. As the Polish champs tried to push the tempo, Maccabi played with patience and showed some crisp passing and good rebounding on the offensive end. Still, Jagla was slowly taking command of the game, getting a defensive board to start off a Szczotka three that made it 68-79 score with four minutes left, and scoring a layup, then grabbing an offensive rebound to put back the 72-81 score with little over a minute to go. With 11 points in the quarter, he almost brought back Prokom, but ultimately lacked time, as Blu scored on a drive to the basket to make it 72-83 and seal the deal for Maccabi.
Thursday, December 23, 2010