Tyus, Hickman lead Maccabi to 2014 Final Four
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv advanced to the 2014 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four on Wednesday night with a spectacular performance on its home court. Maccabi returned to the Final Four for the 12th time since the format was chosen in 1988 - and for the first time since 2011 - by downing EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 86-66 in front of a sellout crowd at Nokia Arena in Game 4 of their playoffs series. Maccabi won the series 3-1. Ricky Hickman and Alex Tyus paced the winners with 16 points apiece. Devin Smith added 13 while David Blu and Sofoklis Schortsanitis each had 11 for Maccabi. Smith and Tyus each pulled down 9 rebounds for the winners. Keith Langford led Milan with 28 points – all in the opening three quarters. Daniel Hackett added 10 for the guests. Three-pointers by Hickman, Yogev Ohayon and Guy Pnini gave Maccabi an early 14-8 lead. Langford had 13 first-quarter points, however, and a layup by Gani Lawal gave Milan a 19-21 edge after 10 minutes. Tyus and Blu kept Maccabi close but three-pointers by Hackett and Curtis Jerrells allowed Milan to get a 35-43 margin at halftime. A 9-0 run that Pnini capped with a triple allowed Maccabi to regain the lead, 44-43, but an outstanding Langford saw Milan regain a 54-56 edge after three quarters. Tyus had 6 points in an 11-2 run that put Maccabi ahead for good, 65-58. Maccabi boosted its margin to 79-65 with three minutes left and had plenty of time to celebrate a historic win!
First quarter: Langford's exhibition puts Milan ahead
Jerrells got Milan going with a driving layup that Hickman bettered with a three-pointer for a 3-2 Maccabi lead. Langford took over with a reverse layup and matched Schortsanitis's jump hook with a five-meter jumper to give the guests a 5-6 edge. Ohayon struck from downtown, Samardo Samuels shined with an off-balance basket and a corner triple by Hickman ignited the crowd at 11-8. Pnini joined the three-point shootout – Maccabi's fourth in as many attempts. Samuels kept pacing Milan with a put-back slam and a wide open triple by Langford brought the guests within 14-13. Tyus scored down low and Langford fired in a three-pointer in transition to tie it at 16-16. Blu answered from downtown, but a red-hot Langford hit another one from beyond the arc for a 19-19 tie. Lawal came off the bench and immediately delivered with a close basket, which gave Milan a 19-21 edge after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Jerrells shines, Milan increases lead
Tyus stepped up with a put-back layup early in the second quarter, as Maccabi improved its backcourt defense, not allowing Milan to circulate the ball. David Moss rescued the guests with his trademark corner three-pointer. Schortsanitis shined with a three-point play, but a put-back slam by Moss put Milan back ahead, 24-26. Samuels split free throws and a catch-and-shoot triple by Blu tied it at 27-27. Maccabi tried a more athletic lineup with Smith and Tyus back on court. Kristjan Kangur banked in a running shot, which Ohayon erased with a driving layup. Langford took over with a three-point play, but Tyus fed Smith for a layup to keep Maccabi within 31-32. Moss downed a four-meter jumper, causing Maccabi to call timeout at 31-34. Hackett nailed a corner three-pointer and even after Ohayon scored in penetration, Jerrells struck twice from downtown to make it a double-digit game, 33-43. Free throws by Tyrese Rice kept Maccabi within 35-43 at halftime.
Third quarter: Who will stop Langford?
Schortsanitis hit a jump hook immediately after the break, as Maccabi held its opponents scoreless for more than two minutes. Free throws by Hickman brought the hosts as close as 39-43. A huge steal by Schortsanitis and a high-flying tip-in by Smith caused Milan to call timeout at 41-43. A three-pointer by Pnini completed Maccabi's comeback, 44-43. Langford stepped up with a big basket and bettered Schortsanitis's free throws with a triple, good for a 46-48 Milan edge. Schortsanitis scored in the low post and a huge dunk by Tyus put Maccabi back ahead, 50-48. Samuels split foul shots, which Langford followed with a stop-and-pop jumper. Tyus remained on fire with an alley-oop slam and Hickman made free throws, but an unstoppable Langford singlehandedly kept Milan ahead, 54-56, at the end of an exciting quarter.
Fourth quarter: Maccabi heads back to the Final Four!
Tyus hit an off-balance shot early in the quarter, which tied it at 56-56. Lawal quickly answered with a layup that Smith improved on with a corner three for a 59-58 Maccabi edge. Tyus kept pushing Maccabi with a put-back slam and a driving layup by Hickman made it a 5-point game with seven minutes to go. Tyus dunked again, causing Milan to call timeout at 65-58. Hackett split free throws, but Rice scored twice in penetration to give Maccabi its first double-digit lead, 69-59. Hackett struck from downtown only to see Tyus take over with yet another slam. A three-pointer by Smith sealed the outcome, 74-62, with four minutes remaining. Milan kept trying, but Maccabi, backed by an outstanding crowd, kept rolling. Blu followed a running jumper with a three-pointer that got the party started, 79-65. Everything was said and done with time to spare as Maccabi rejoiced knowing it was headed back to Milan, but not for Game 5, rather to fight for the Euroleague title in mid-May!
Wednesday, April 23, 2014