2007-08Regular SeasonRound 11
January 10, 2008 CET: 19:50
Local time: 20:50 NOKIA ARENA

Maccabi Tel Aviv, whose 87-68 decision over Unicaja

Maccabi Elite clinched a spot in the Top 16 and returned to the battle for the top spot in Group B with a convincing 87-68 win over Unicaja on Thursday night at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv, Israel. Maccabi improved to 8-3 in the group, the same record as Unicaja, though the visiting side remains in second due to its 23-point win over the Israeli champs earlier this season in Malaga. The two trail Lietuvos Rytas for the group lead by one win. In the team’s second game under new head coach Zvika Sherf, Maccabi played better at both ends of the floor, holding an opponent below 70 points for the second straight week and impressing in its halfcourt offense. Marcus Fizer scored 16 of his season-high 19 points as Maccabi took a narrow lead after 10 minutes, which it never relinquished. Unicja remained close behind for much of the game, getting within 1 early in the third period and trailing by as little as 5 early in the fourth, but a consistent Maccabi attack and strong defense finished the game on a 24-10 tear to register the victory. David Bluthenthal hit 4 three-pointer on his way to 16 points, Terence Morris added 13 and Omri Casspi had a career-high 11 in 12 minutes. Alex Garcia struggled with his shooting (0 for 10), but dished 6 assists for the winners. Fizer also had 4 assists. Davor Kus led Unicaja with 17 points, Marcus Haislip added 13 and Boniface NDong added 9.

Maccabi came out fired up and scored on its first two possessions, with Fizer netting a basket inside, and Bluthenthal hitting a three-pointer from the top of the arc. But that same aggressive attitude led to early fouls on defense as Haislip and NDong both made pairs of free throws. Haislip soon added a jump hook and then a three to put Unicaja up 5-9. Fizer quickly tied it, but NDong’s work in the paint and a Jiri Welsch jumper kept the visitors ahead. Triples by Morris and Bluthenthal tied it once more at 15-15. Haislip and Welsch answered, but Fizer became the focal point of the Maccabi attack with 10 straight points, including drawing NDong’s second foul, hitting a three and then dropping a slam-plus-foul on Daniel Santiago to make it 25-21. Santiago answered with a pair of dunks, but Bluthenthal fed Morris with a crosscourt pass for a layup to end the period with the hosts leading 29-27.

Vonteego Cummings kept the momentum going with a jumper to start the second period and back-to-back traveling calls on Kus kept the visitors from answering. Casspi checked in with a long jumper, before Carlos Cabezas muscled his way to an offensive rebound and basket. Will Bynum went coast-to-coast for a layup and Esteban Batista converted in transition to make it 37-31, leading to an Unicaja timeout. Kus hit a triple and German Gabriel scored inside to close the gap to 1. Casspi continued his spirited play with a pair of offensive rebounds leading to a basket and a free throw. Kus countered by drilling a triple from the top of the key, but Casspi was there again for a tip-in. Bynum added a pair of free throws and Casspi swatted Kus in the closing seconds of the half to give Maccabi a 44-39 halftime lead.

NDong’s basket in the paint opened the third period, but Cummings fed Fizer for a bucket at the other end. Haislip scored twice to get Unicaja within 1, but Fizer returned the favor with a pass to Cummings for a score and then Morris added a basket to keep Maccabi ahead. Fizer converted a free throw to give him a season-high 19 already. Cabezas ran out of options as the Maccabi defense forced a shot-clock violation and then Fizer assisted Cummings for a basket-plus-foul that made it 56-47. Unicaja tried to stop the momentum with a timeout and NDong showed the visitors weren’t done with a wicked dunk. But Bluthenthal’s third three of he night gave the hosts their first double-digit advantage. NDong and Kus trimmed the deficit from the line, before a Bluthenthal runner and 2 more Kus free throws ended the third period with Maccabi up 61-54.

Morris and Santiago traded points at the start of the fourth quarter, but Carlos Jimenez’s second turnover in one minute held Unicaja back. But Maccabi started to misfire as well. Santiago scored inside to cut the gap to 5 only for Morris to answer again. Then Bluthenthal stepped up with a three-pointer that made it 68-58. Cabezas tried to get Unicaja going with a layup, but a Batista basket kept it a double-digit margin. Santiago was then whistled for a technical over an incident with Alex Garcia. Bluthenthal hit the resulting free throws and Yotam Halperin scored in transition to make it 74-60. Kus and Gabriel tried to fuel the visitors and after a Halperin technical, Kus cut the gap to 10 from the line. But Unicaja would get no closer as a Halperin three-pointer with two minutes remaining made it a 15-point game. The lead continued to grow in the closing minute as Casspi put the hosts up 19. Maccabi used a timeout as it tried to eclipse the 23-point loss it suffered in Malaga in November, but the visitors killed the clock to keep the potential head-to-head tiebreaker in their hands.

Thursday, January 10, 2008
Frankie Sachs, Tel Aviv
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Attendance: 11000
By Quarter1234
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv29151726
End of Quarter1234
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv29446187
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 BYNUM, WILL 11:17 4 1/3 0/1 2/2   1 1 1 1       2 1 3
5 FIZER, MARCUS 23:29 19 6/10 1/1 4/6 1 3 4 4 1       3 4 23
6 SHARP, DERRICK 0:14                              
7 VUJCIC, NIKOLA DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9 MORRIS, TERENCE 30:00 13 5/7 1/1     6 6 3   1 2   2   19
10 FANAN, REGEV DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
11 CASSPI, OMRI 11:44 11 5/7   1/2 5 1 6   1 1 1 1 1 2 15
12 GARCIA, ALEX 23:09   0/6 0/4   1 3 4 6   1     3 1 -3
13 BLU, DAVID 33:09 16 1/1 4/8 2/2   5 5 1 1       3   16
14 CUMMINGS, VONTEEGO 22:40 7 3/6 0/2 1/1       3       1 2 1 3
15 BATISTA, ESTEBAN 21:23 8 3/7   2/2 1 2 3   2 1   1 3 4 8
21 HALPERIN, YOTAM 22:55 9 2/4 1/1 2/2       3 4       2 1 13
Team                   2         1 3
Totals 200:00 87 26/51 7/18 14/17 8 21 29 21 12 4 3 3 21 15 100
        51% 38.9% 82.4%
Head coach: SHERF, ZVI
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 POPOVIC, BOJAN 11:35   0/1           1           2 2
5 RODRIGUEZ, BERNI 19:57   0/5       2 2 3   1   1 1 1 -2
7 KUS, DAVOR 24:54 17 2/5 2/5 7/8   1 1 1   4   1   4 11
9 WELSCH, JIRI 27:20 8 3/5 0/2 2/2 1 4 5 2   2       1 10
10 CABEZAS, CARLOS 27:25 8 3/6 0/2 2/2 2 2 4 1 1 2 1   2 1 7
12 NDONG, BONIFACE 17:22 9 3/4   3/4 2 3 5   1   2   3 4 16
13 GABRIEL, GERMAN 14:02 5 1/1 1/1     3 3     2     5   1
20 JIMENEZ, CARLOS 16:31   0/1 0/1     3 3 3   2     3 1  
24 HAISLIP, MARCUS 25:44 13 4/11 1/4 2/2 1 3 4     1   1   1 6
25 SANTIAGO, DANIEL 15:10 8 3/3   2/2 2 2 4     1     2 5 14
34 SANDERS, MELVIN DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Team           2 3 5               5
Totals 200:00 68 19/42 4/15 18/20 10 26 36 11 2 15 3 3 16 20 70
        45.2% 26.7% 90%

Head Coaches

Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
"I am very satisfied and pleased with our win. We beat a very strong and aggressive team with a deep bench. They were even deeper than I expected as they got more tonight from Santiago than even Scariolo thought. We are also a good team with a deep bench. We played good defense and have depth, enough to beat good teams, especially here in Tel Aviv. In the fourth period, we had chances to get to 23 and we anted to because we want to bring back a winning attitude to the team. We have a deep bench and not everyone can play, but the ones who take the floor and give 100% will get more minutes. Vujcic dressed, but I dint feel it was worth risking him yet. Every player here knows that if they don’t give more on defense, they won’t play. Some are better and some aren’t at defense, but I want to see every player give his maximum. Casspi was excellent offensive and defensively. Vonteego and Will did a great job by shutting down Cabezas in every aspect. In the end, these things made the difference. I enjoyed being on the sidelines here again."
"I want to congratulate Maccabi for this win. They kept their energy throughout 40 minutes. They played as a team, made great shots, big shots. They also played okay defense and passed the ball to each other, so they deserve to win and we congratulate them. I think that our defense has not been good since the beginning, it was normal, but you don’t win in Tel Aviv with normal defense. We tried at a certain point to go with a smaller lineup, but the medicine was worse than the illness."


Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
"We came different to 2008 with the change in the coaching staff, and tonight it worked for us. We feel good together, and work every day to get better. Our goal is to make it to the Final Four in Madrid and from there the sky is the limit. Sherf motivates us very well and it helps us on the court."
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
"We played well and I hope we'll continue to play like that. I had a very good first half, but I got a little bit tired in the second and then my teammates stepped up. Our coaching staff speaks about defense, defense and defense and that's what we did."
"There's not much to say. Maccabi played good, and we played bad. It's just one of those days. They made some big shots in the second half, and once they opened a big lead, and they had the momentum with the push of their fans, it was very difficult for us to recover."
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