Hickman takes Maccabi past Montepaschi
In an outstanding battle between Turkish Airlines Euroleague powerhouses, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv stayed undefeated in Group B by edging Montepaschi Siena 70-68 in Israel on Thursday. Maccabi leads Group B with a 2-0 record and Montepaschi dropped to 0-2. Ricky Hickman led the winners with 19 points, including the go-ahead basket with 4 seconds to go. Malcolm Thomas added 14 and 11 rebounds while Lior Eliyahu also had a double-double - 11 points, 11 rebounds - for Maccabi. Marcelus Kemp led Montepaschi with 16 points. Bobby Brown added 11, Viktor Sanikidze pulled down 12 boards and Mario Kasun grabbed 11 rebounds for the guests. Brown hit a wild 15-meter bomb to give Montepaschi a 14-20 lead after 10 minutes. Kristjan Kangur allowed his team to extended its margin to 23-31 late in the second quarter. Thomas rescued Maccabi and a three-pointer by Hickman allowed the hosts to regain the lead, 45-43, after the break. Tomas Ress gave Montepaschi a 62-66 edge with under 3 minutes left but Eliyahu and Hickman stepped up to tie, 68-68, with 37 seconds left. Tomas Ress and Sanikidze missed respective shots, Hickman scored at the other end and Kemp could not score in the game's final possession. Maccabi legend Tal Burstein was honored before the game, being awarded an outstanding ovation. Burstein won back-to-back Euroleague titles with Maccabi in 2004 and 2005.
First quarter: What a shot!
Maccabi struggled to score in the early going and free throws by Kemp gave Montepaschi a 0-2 lead. Giorgi Shermadini stepped up with a put-back layup but Kemp erased with a rainbow jumper and David Moss dunked it for a 2-6 Montepaschi edge. Guy Pnini found space for a wide open triple but Brown quickly answered with a jumper in transition which a red hot Kemp followed with a fast break layup. Nik Caner-Medley split free throws and Moss scored in transition to make all Maccabi fans start to wonder at 6-12. Shermadini hit a jumper and a put-back layup by Eliyahu brought Maccabi within 10-13. Kangur took over with a backdoor layup, as Montepaschi improved its defensive intensity. Kangur kept pacing Montepaschi with a fast break layup, forcing the hosts to call timeout at 10-17. Thomas took over with a put-back layup and Yogev Oyahon added free throws but Brown buried an unbelievable 15-meter shot from beyond midcourt to give Montepaschi a 14-20 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Montepaschi still ahead
Thomas got the crowd involved with a dunk early in the second quarter that Sanikidze matched with a tip-in. Eliyahu beat the guests' zone defense with a put-back basket that Ress bettered with a three-pointer for a 18-25 Montepaschi margin. Oyahon tried to change things with a driving layup in transition but Daniel Hackett erased it with foul shots. Montepaschi finally locked the defensive board but now struggled to score without Brown on the floor. Kasun shined with a tip-in off a timeout but David Logan answered with a wild three-pointer off the dribble. Maccabi kept missing easy shots around the basket, however, and a turnaround jumper by Kangur boosted the guests' lead to 23-31. Hickman fed Eliyahu for a two-handed dunk but Brown quickly matched it with a floating layup. Eliyahu scored again and Hickman added a coast-to-coast layup to bring Maccabi within 29-33. Hickman made free throws to fix the halftime score at 31-33.
Third quarter: a great show
A tip-ín by Kasun and a fast break dunk by Kemp allowed Montepaschi to get some fresh air, 31-37, immediately after the break, as the game turned into a physical battle. Hickman rescued Maccabi with a three-pointer and a layup by Thomas brought Maccabi within 35-37. Kemp buried a wild three-pointer but Devin Smith quickly answered from downtown. Kemp nailed another one from beyond the arc and Thomas sent the crowd to their feet with an alleyoop slam. Smith kept pacing Maccabi with a coast-to-coast layup, making Montepaschi call timeout at 42-43. An acrobatic three-point play by Hickman completed the hosts' comeback, 45-43. Kangur answered with a triple but a driving layup by Hickman put Maccabi back ahead, 47-46. Eliyahu and Hickman split free throws but Brown kept Montepaschi within 49-48. Thomas set the crowd on fire with a big dunk but Brown and Aleksandar Rasic allowed Montepaschi to get a 51-52 edge. A driving jumper by Pnini, however, gave Maccabi a 53-52 edge after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: down to the wire!
Montepaschi switched back to a 2-3 zone defense that Thomas beat with a tip-in. Kemp stepped up with an off-balance shot and a big dunk by Sanikidze made Montepaschi regain the lead, 55-56, with under 8 minutes to go. Smith shined with a put-back basket that Sanikidze matched with a driving layup. Thomas stayed on fire with a put-back basket but a jumper by Moss provided another lead change, 59-60. Hickman buried a three-pointer and Moss split free throws for a 62-61 Montepaschi deficit midway through the fourth quarter. Ress swished an open jumper and a free throw by Sanikidze made it a two-point game, 62-64. Maccabi kept struggling to score right when it mattered and Ress extended the guests' lead to 62-66 with under 3 minutes left. Logan scored in penetration, Ress missed from downtown and free throws by Eliyahu kept Maccabi within 66-68 with 45.4 seconds left. Hickman collected a key steal, drew a foul and made free throws to tie it, 68-68, with 37 seconds to go. Ress missed a baseline jumper, Sanikidze could not hit the tap-in and Hickman shined with a driving layup for a 70-68 Maccabi edge with 4 seconds left. Montepaschi had a chance to send the game to overtime but Kemp missed a fallaway shot at the buzzer.
Thursday, October 18, 2012