Caloiaro inspires Maccabi past Panathinaikos
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv produced an intense performance to overcome Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 84-75 on Thursday night for its fourth straight win. The result lifted Maccabi to 9-11, while Panathinaikos lost its seventh in a row on the road to fall to 8-12. The home team led from the second quarter onwards, often by double digits, and Panathinaikos's attempted comeback couldn't get closer than 4 points. Angelo Caloiaro inspired Maccabi with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Scottie Wilbekin scored 13. Nick Calathes had a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists for Panathinaikos. Matt Lojeski also scored 14, while DeShaun Thomas bagged 12 points and 8 rebounds against his former team.
The early scoring was fast and furious, with the lead regularly swapping hands as Calathes scored three baskets for Panathinaikos while Johnny O'Bryant scored from close and long-range for the hosts. Defenses got on top midway through the opening quarter and it stayed close as Thomas's slam was answered by a Caloiaro tip-in. The quarter finished with a step-back three from John DiBartolomeo for a 16-17 scoreline. Jake Cohen scored two triples in an 8-0 run as Maccabi surged ahead and Alex Tyus recorded three baskets along with a big block for a 28-22 lead. Michael Roll and Lojeski both scored twice and Thomas added two layups to make it closer before a runner from Jeremy Pargo gave Maccabi a 40-35 half-time edge. Sean Kilpatrick and Wilbekin started the second half with three-pointers and a three-point play from Tarik Black gave Maccabi a double-digit lead. Three free throws from Wilbekin stretched the advantage to 51-38, but Lojekski and Ioannis Papapetrou netted to give Panathinaikos hope. The scoring was even for the remainder of the third, which finished at 62-54. Lukas Lekavicius opened the final stanza with a three-pointer. Roll and Caloiaro extended Maccabi's lead back to double figures and Wilbekin's corner three protected a safe margin. Papapetrou's triple and layup made it 70-66 with 4 minutes remaining and Calathes scored twice, but Caloiaro responded with a big put-back, a three-pointer and a pair of free throws, and that was enough to seal the win.
Head-to-head advantage sealed by Maccabi
In addition to winning the game, Maccabi has extra cause for celebration after the 9-point margin secured the potential head-to-head tiebreaker over Panathinaikos, which won by 5 when the teams met in Athens in October.
Maccabi's best run for four years
With four victories in a row, Maccabi is now on its longest winning streak since February 2015 when it won five consecutive games in the old format Top 16. More importantly, Maccabi could find itself in a share of eighth place – or even seventh – depending on Friday's results.
Cohen and Tyus spark surge
The key phase of the game was early in the second quarter. Neither team had led by more than 3 points until Matt Lojeski's free throws made it 13-17 in the final minute of the first quarter, which featured five lead changes. But Maccabi went 12-2 in the space of 2 and a half minutes early in the second with Alex Tyus and Jake Cohen both scoring 6 to move ahead – and the Israeli champion never trailed again.
Long-range woes for Greens
Panathinaikos struggled desperately from long range, missing all 5 of its attempts from beyond the arc before the break. Sean Kilpatrick finally made the Greens' opening three-pointer with the first basket of the second half, but the visiting team eventually converted just 4 of 22 (18.2%) from downtown.
Round 21 will see Panathinaikos host high-flying Anadolu Efes Istanbul, while Maccabi travels for a big game against KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Thursday, January 24, 2019