2007-08PlayoffsGame 1
April 01, 2008 CET: 19:50
Local time: 20:50 NOKIA ARENA
Nikola Vujcic - Maccabi Elite - EB07

Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv downed AXA F.C. Barcelona 81-75

Maccabi Elite held off a stern second-half charge from AXA FC Barcelona to record an 81-75 win in Game 1 of the teams' best-of-three Euroleague Basketball Quarterfinal Playoffs series on Tuesday night at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv. The Israeli champs can now earn a trip to the Final Four in Madrid with a win at Barcelona in Game 2 on Thursday. Maccabi used a 9-0 run bridging first two periods to take the lead and the hosts would increase it to 11 a number of times in the second quarter. Barcelona cut the gap to 36-29 by halftime. Gianluca Basile and Ersan Ilyasova each drilled 3 three-pointers in the third quarter as Barca came back to tie the score at 57-57. But Maccabi never fell behind despite constant pressure from the visitors and continued dominant play from Basile and Ilyasova. But Nikola Vujcic, who entered the game shooting 47.8% from the line, was perfect from the charity stripe when it mattered most and a traveling call on Basile with 20 seconds left and his team down 6 signaled the end for Barcelona. Maccabi was led by its big trio of Esteban Batista with 15 points, Terrence Morris with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Vujcic with 12. Yotam Halperin added 11 points and 5 assists and Will Bynum, who made his third start of the season, also score 11. Ilyasova finished with a career-high 21 points and 9 rebounds, Basile added 17 and Mario Kasun posted 12 points and 8 boards for Barcelona, whose biggest weakness was star guard Jaka Lakovic, who finished with just 6 points on 1-for-10 shooting.

From the start the visitors stamped their tempo on the game with tough defense and slow, long attacks. Accordingly, after David Bluthenthal missed the game's first shot, Denis Marconato put Barcelona on top with a long jumper. Bynum answered with Maccabi’s first points before Ilyasova's tip-in on the offensive glass kept the visitors ahead. Morris found a cutting Nikola Vujcic for basket-plus-foul and Maccabi's first lead, but Kasun made his presence felt in the paint with two baskets that made it 5-8. Morris bettered him with the game’s next three buckets as Maccabi went up 11-8. Gary Neal buried a big triple off the dribble to tie the game. Maccabi kept trying to get Vujcic involved without much success, while a free throw by Kasun put Barcelona back ahead. Bynum sank a five-meter shot coming off a screen that Fran Vazquez erased with a mid-range shot. Maccabi kept dominating the defensive boards and Batista tied the game with a free throw, 14-14. A second-chance layup by Morris allowed Maccabi to regain the lead, 16-14, after 10 minutes.

Maccabi came out for the second period determined and took over with a Bynum steal that led to an Omri Casspi slam. Yotan Halperin and Batista added baskets as Barcelona called timeout trailing by 8. Ilyasova stopped the bleeding and Roger Grimau and Halperin traded free throws, but Maccabi continued to pull away and when Batista got a lucky roll inside, the hosts’ lead reached double figures. Maccabi’s defense and Barca’s poor outside shooting allowed the hosts to remain in control, however a couple of fouls gave the visitors extra chances. After Alex Acker’s steal and uncontested layup and an Ilyasova basket on the offensive glass, Maccabi called timeout. The last minutes of the half were anticlimactic as Barcelona failed to make a field goal in the remaining three-and-a-half minutes, but Maccabi could not take advantage and the teams went to the locker rooms for the break with the hosts ahead 36-29.

Barcelona made its way back as a Kasun slam and an Ilyasova basket on the offensive glass brought the visitors within 4. Alex Garcia stepped up from downtown, but Ilyasova matched him at the other end. Basile cut the gap to 42-39 with his first triple. Maccabi responded quickly with a Halperin three and a Vujcic basket, however Basile’s hot hand kept it close. The three-point shootout continued with Bluthenthal and Ilyasova. Bynum and Kasun then traded baskets before Bluthenthal and Basile swapped triples. Pepe Sanchez fed Kasun inside to get his team within 1 and after a Batista slam, Ilyasova drilled his third three of the period to tie the score at 57-57 and set the stage for an exciting fourth quarter.

Casspi drilled a three to put Maccabi back on top and Halperin then scored on the break, but a red-hot Ilyasova added another three for Barcelona. Batista and Ilyasova traded free throws before a Marconato jumper made it 65-63. Bynum drilled a three-pointer to put Maccabi up 5. Nerves seemed to be getting to both sides now as sloppy play ensued. Morris shined with a highlight reel offensive rebound and slam in one motion to increase Maccabi’s lead to 71-63 with four minutes to go as Barcelona took a timeout. Ilyasova came up big on the defensive end with a big block on Batista and then Basile drilled a clutch triple to keep his team’s chances alive, but at the other end Vujcic drew a foul and hit free throws. A Basile finger roll made it a 5-point game with less than two minutes remaining. Kasun added a free throw and then an exciting minute of back-and-forth action ensued, with both teams missing baskets that could have been instrumental. Vujcic went back to the line with 28 seconds left and netted 2 to give the hosts a 6-point edge. Then a traveling call on Basile ended Barcelona’s chances and Maccabi wrapped up the win with free throws.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008
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Attendance: 11000
By Quarter1234
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv16202124
AXA FC Barcelona14152818
End of Quarter1234
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv16365781
AXA FC Barcelona14295775
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 33:23 11 3/7 1/3 2/2 1 1 2 3 3 1     1 3 14
5 SHARP, DERRICK 7:40 4   0/1 4/4                 1 2 4
7 VUJCIC, NIKOLA 18:49 12 3/6 0/1 6/7 1 5 6 2   3   1 1 4 14
8 ELIYAHU, LIOR 2:30                              
9 MORRIS, TERENCE 28:59 14 7/11 0/4   4 6 10 3   1 2 1 3   16
10 BURSTEIN, TAL DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
11 CASSPI, OMRI 17:51 5 1/2 1/1     5 5 1   1     4   5
12 GARCIA, ALEX 16:05 3 0/2 1/1     1 1 1   1   1 1 2 2
13 BLU, DAVID 17:48 6 0/1 2/5     1 1   1 2     2    
14 CUMMINGS, VONTEEGO DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
15 BATISTA, ESTEBAN 20:58 15 6/8   3/6 1 4 5   1 2   1 3 4 14
21 HALPERIN, YOTAM 35:57 11 2/3 1/3 4/4 1 5 6 5 1 2   1   5 22
Team           1 3 4   3           7
Totals 200:00 81 22/40 6/19 19/23 9 31 40 15 9 13 2 5 16 20 98
        55% 31.6% 82.6%
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
AXA FC Barcelona
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
5 BASILE, GIANLUCA 34:46 17 1/4 5/9     5 5 3 1 2     4   13
6 SANCHEZ, PEPE 20:51   0/2 0/3     5 5 6   4     2 2 2
8 TRIAS, JORDI DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9 MARCONATO, DENIS 9:15 4 2/2               1     3 1 1
10 LAKOVIC, JAKA 19:09 6 1/4 0/6 4/4   1 1 2         1 4 3
13 NEAL, GARY 16:23 3 0/3 1/3             1     1   -4
17 VAZQUEZ, FRAN 13:05 2 1/2     1 1 2     1       2 4
21 ILYASOVA, ERSAN 33:25 21 4/5 4/7 1/2 6 3 9 2 1   2   3 1 28
24 MONCASI, ALBERT DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
34 ACKER, ALEX 10:00 4 2/4 0/1     1 1   1     1     2
41 KASUN, MARIO 24:15 12 5/8   2/4 4 4 8       2 1 1 3 18
44 GRIMAU, ROGER 18:51 6 1/4 1/2 1/2   2 2   1   1   5 3 3
Team             2 2   9           11
Totals 200:00 75 17/38 11/31 8/12 11 24 35 13 13 9 5 2 20 16 81
        44.7% 35.5% 66.7%
Head coach: PASCUAL, XAVI

Head Coaches

Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
"Game 1 at home is always difficult, because the pressure is on the home team. I'm happy that we won, although we didn't play our best game of the season. We missed too many shots from outside. We don't have time to relax. We'll travel to Barcelona and try to win there. If I was told before the game we'll win by 6 points, I’d take it. Some things we couldn't execute and suffered from early foul trouble of Morris. The players won the game. We were up from the start, but we couldn't make a big run, and I think it's better for us for the next game. I think we're a better team. We did on defense what we wanted. We'll sit in the plane and try to see how we can win there, because in Barcelona it's a totally different game."
AXA FC Barcelona
"Congratulations to Maccabi for the win. I want to also congratulate Maccabi's fans because they supported the team all the game. It was a tough and close game. in the second quarter we had three turnovers and we didn't foul, which allowed Maccabi to take the lead. The best thing about the second quarter is that we were still at the game at half time. On defense we had some problems and didn't play as good as expected. We were tired in the last quarter, missed 2 shots and made a turnover, but we still had the option to be in the game until the end of the match. We didn't want to speed the game because we know Maccabi is more comfortable when the game is fast. We waited for a moment to change the rhythm. If we had scored the open shots we had, things would have been different. We showed we can compete against anybody. We showed we can win here."


Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
"We had some match up problems that allowed them to hit three-pointers. We'll have to watch the video and figure how they made those shots. We didn't shoot as well as usual, and we also got in foul trouble. We need one more win to play in the Final Four and we'll try to end this series already on Thursday night in Barcelona."
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
"We didn't play great on offense, but our defense wasn't bad at all. The final result is what's important. We knew what to expect and we never underestimated them. Our plan was to take Jaka Lakovic out of the game, and we were able to do that. The bottom line is that we lead 1-0 and the pressure is on them now. We knew they'll be aggressive on defense. With most things we handled good, and I hope we'll do the same job in 48 hours."
AXA FC Barcelona
"We had an excellent chance to win this game, but we made some small mistakes in the last minutes and that made the change. We made Maccabi work very hard to win this game, and we showed we can beat them. We missed some shots that could have made the difference, and I hope the next game will be different."
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