Maccabi tops Unicaja in an outstanding game
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv opened its 2012-13 season in style with an 80-85 road win over Unicaja Malaga behind an effective team effort on Thursday night at Martin Carpena Arena in Malaga, Spain. Five players scored between 9 and 16 points as Maccabi dished 16 assists compared to only 5 by the hosts. In his Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut, Ricky Hickman scored 16 points for Maccabi, including the final 2 from the charity stripe that sealed the win, and added 4 assists. David Logan added 14 points, Lior Eliyahu scored 13, Guy Pnini 11 and Giorgi Shermadini finished with 9 as Maccabi won its season opener on the road for the first time since 2004. Four newcomers paced Unicaja as Earl Calloway scored 25 behind 5 three-pointers, Krunoslav Simon netted 19, Txemi Urtasun 15 and Marcus Williams 10. The hosts made only 32% of their shots inside the arc. Both teams enjoyed a great day beyond the arc and scored at almost 50% accuracy, but Maccabi went on to grab an 18-point gap already in the second quarter. Unicaja tied the score right before the third quarter buzzer, but Maccabi used a 2-14 run to take a safe lead it never dropped again.
First quarter: a high-scoring start
Unicaja won the tip and started its season with a three pointer by Calloway in his first Euroleague game since 2009. Yogev Ohayon picked up his second personal foul after one minute and the momentum seemed stick with the home team. Calloway added a steal and a layup before Guy Pnini put Maccabi on the board with a long range shot, only to see Urtasun answer with a three for his debut Euroleague basket. Pnini hit another catch-and-shoot from long distance to balance the score for the first time at 8-8. Simon scored five in a row for Unicaja, but Maccabi collected points under the rim through its guards - Hickman and David Logan - to stay in the game, before James Gist and Hickman exchanged threes, 16-15. Eliyahu came off the bench, stole the ball and with his first points put Maccabi on top for the first time with a fastbreak layup. On the following possession, he did the exact same thing only to see Gist stop him with an unsportsmanlike foul. Sylvan Landesberg started his Euroleague career with a three-pointer and a big assist for a Malcolm Thomas jam to cap a 10-0 Maccabi run for a 17-25 lead before Urtasun hit his second long range bomb to set the first quarter score on 20-25 for the visitors.
Second quarter: Maccabi dominates
Landesberg added a great bucket to bring Maccabi to a 20-29 lead before Unicaja coach Jasmin Repesa called a timeout less than 90 seconds inside the second quarter, yet that wasn't enough to stop the guests. Hickman with a tough bucket created the first double-digit gap of the night and added another assist for a Logan three pointer and a 23-36 lead. Simon scored a pair from the charity stripe only to see Logan hit another open three and Maccabi's gap climbed to 14. Shawn James, with a pair of blocks, a steal and 4 points in a row under the rim pushed the gap to 25-43 before Calloway finally scored for Unicaja. Maccabi's run was stopped and the locals used it to cut the gap to 31-44, yet Logan with a big off-the-dribble shot extended the gap once again to 15. The hosts recovered quickly and Urtasun remained perfect from the arc with his third triplet to trim it back to 12 before Luka Zoric scored his first point of the season to set the half time score at 36-47.
Third quarter: Unicaja stays in the game
Unicaja tried to go inside, but saw Thomas rise for a big block, before Calloway scored from the arc and Augusto Lima with a big block allowed Simon to score from the arc and make it just 43-51, the first single-digit gap in more than 12 minutes, enough for Coach David Blatt to call a timeout. Hickman with a great off dribble three pointer pushed the gap back to 11, but Unicaja wasn't about to give up. The giants of each side - Kosta Perovic of Unicaja and Giorgi Shermadini of Maccabi - exchanged a pair of free throws before Urtasun cut it just to 49-56 inside the last five minutes of the third quarter. Eliyahu missed by the hair, and Calloway cut it down to just five points, before another turnover by Maccabi allowed Calloway score a huge three pointer to make it only 54-56 with 3:39 to go, yet Maccabi found an answer to cut the drought. An unsportsmanlike foul by Lima followed by a technical foul on the Unicaja bench saw Shermadini score all four free throws. On the last second of the shot clock Pnini was fouled to add another pair and the gap jumped back to 8, 54-62. The guests continued to collect points from the foul line while Unicaja relayed on its guards in Calloway who was joined by two mid-range jumpers of Marcus Williams, enough for a 61-63 score inside the last minute of the third period. Calloway with another drive tied the score for the first time since the 7th minute and capped Unicaja's run and delete Maccabi's 18 point advantage from the first half. Logan added a pair from the charity stripe to give Maccabi a 65-67 entering the deciding quarter but the momentum was clearly on the side of the home side.
Fourth quarter: early run makes Maccabi win it
Eliyahu broke a seven-minute Maccabi drought and with 4 points in a row switched the momentum back to Maccabi side. Thomas, with a pair of blocks, and Ohayon, with a pair of three-pointers, one from each wing, created another Maccabi run for a 65-75 gap with 6:21 to play before Unicaja called for another timeout, once again down by double-figures. Ohayon continued to produce and with a kick out pass found an open Pnini for a jumper before Simon answered from long range at the other end to stop a 2-14 run by Maccabi. Calloway added another three for a 71-77 score with 4:17 to play to keep Unicaja in the picture, yet Eliyahu and Hickman combined for 4 points from the foul line to enter the last two minutes up 71-81, yet the game still wasn't done. Lima and Urtasun cut it by 3 before Williams scored his first three pointer for a 4-point game with 51 seconds to play. Logan scored a big shot only to see Calloway hit another one from long range and it was just 80-83 with 26 tics on the game clock. Unicaja tried to steal, but with 11 seconds to play sent Hickman to the foul line and a pair of makes sealed the deal for Maccabi with a big road win.
Thursday, October 11, 2012