Maccabi roared past Caja Laboral 99-77
Maccabi Electra stormed back to the Final Four for the first time since 2008 by pounding Caja Laboral 99-77 in front of a packed house at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv. Maccabi won the teams’ best-of-five Turkish Airlines Euroleague Quarterfinal Playoffs series 3-1, despite losing Game 1. The feat was even more impressive given that Maccabi was without star guard Doron Perkins, who was lost for the season with a knee injury in Game 3. His backcourt mate Jeremy Pargo took charge with 26 points and 7 assists to lead the winners, while Guy Pnini, who assumed Perkins’s starting spot, scored a career-high 22 minutes. David Blu added 17 points and Lior Eliyahu scored 12 for Maccabi. It was a brilliant first half that saw both teams playing at their best. Mirza Teletovic’s buzzer beating triple game Laboral a 51-52 lead at the break. However Pargo scored 10 in a 21-2 third-quarter run that saw Maccabi take total control. Laboral never made a serious run after that and Maccabi took the lead as high as 26 in the fourth quarter as the local fans cheered on. Mirza Teletovic paced Laboral with 17 points, Brad Oleson scored 13 – all in the first half - Marcelinho Huertas had 12 and 6 assists and Stanko Barac added 10 in defeat as Laboral ended its 2010-11 Euroleague run.
Like in past games, Maccabi went inside early, drawing a foul through Sofoklis Schortsanitis and getting a basket from Eliyahu. Pnini added a jumper before Huertas fed Esteban Batista for Laboral’s first score – a basket-plus-foul. The Maccabi big men continued to generate offense, with Eliyahu assisting to Pnini and then scoring to make it 10-4. Laboral came back with Huertas getting to the basket before Oleson on Schortsanitis, drew the big man’s second foul and cut the gap to 2. Teletovic drilled a three-pointer over Eliyahu to tie the score at 11-11 midway through the quarter, but Pargo pulled up for a triple at the other end. Laboral stayed close thanks to baskets from Fernando San Emeterio and Oleson, but free throws by Pargo and Richard Hendrix kept Maccabi ahead. Teletovic tied the score once more at 18-18 with a triple. David Blu bounced in a runner to put the hosts ahead again, but David Logan’s steal and open court layup in the last minute of the half gave the visitors their first lead. Pargo answered with a triple to put Maccabi ahead 25-23 after 10 minutes.
Oleson rifled in a jumper to start the second quarter. Pargo stayed hot, but Teletovic tipped in a San Emeterio miss to keep things even. Logan then fed Teletovic in transition for a layup as Laboral climbed on top. Pargo penetrated for his 14th point to tie it again. Oleson bounced back from a hard foul for 2 free throws only for Pnini to keep things square at 31-31. Logan fired in a three and Marcelinho banked in a floater as Laboral jumped ahead by 5. After a timeout, Blu stepped up with a long three. Defenses took over for a few minutes, however Blu got an open look from downtown in transition to make it 37-38. Oleson stayed hot with 5 straight points – a gutsy drive and a pull-up three – as Laboral stayed in control. Pargo made a cross-court pass to Pnini for a wide-open three only for Huertas to swish one at the other end. Pnini’s next triple tied the score at 46-46 and after a steal, the Maccabi small forward drilled a three from the corner. Huertas picked up a loose ball and beat the 24-second clock with a three to keep the hot-shooting going. Milan Macvan scored on an inbounds play, but Teletovic sank a wild and deep buzzer-beating three to give the visitors a 51-52 edge at the break.
San Emeterio got Batista a basket inside for a promising start to the second half for the visitors, but Maccabi took over after that. Blu tied the score with a basket and foul. Schortsanitis scored inside and Pargo fed Hendrix for a slam before San Emeterio got Laboral on the scoreboard again. But Pnini fed Hendrix and Eliyahu dropped in a reverse, causing Laboral head coach Dusko Ivanovic to call timeout. But Maccabi continued to roll. Eliyahu rejected Teletovic, which ended up setting Pargo up for a layup and foul. Then Pnini nailed another triple that made it 67-56 as Laboral tried to regroup with another timeout. Pargo went for the kill with a three-pointer followed by a pair of free throws that capped a 21-2 march as Nokia Arena roared. Batista got to the line to end his team’s six-plus minutes drought, but Maccabi continued to pour it on as Blu hit from behind the arc. Huertas and Batista managed to generate some points for Laboral only to see Maccabi match them each time. Chuck Eidson ended Maccabi’s big quarter with 2 free throws to make it 79-62 at the end of the third quarter.
Maccabi did not let up as Hendrix blocked Batista at one end and Pargo drove for a reverse layup at the other. Pargo pulled up for a three-pointer as Maccabi took the lead over the 20-point mark. Huertas set Barac up for a score before Eidson sank a three to make it 87-64. San Emeterio floated to the hoop for a basket, but Eidson was taking over for the home side. Pnini bettered a Teletovic basket with a triple. Barac rocked the basket with a two-handed jam. Blu sent in another three for the hosts. Barac continued to put up points down the stretch, but the outcome was quite clear. The fans stood on their feet to sing for their heroes in the final minutes as Maccabi claimed a ticket to the Final Four.
Thursday, March 31, 2011