Maccabi FOX wins in Sassari to stay alive
In an intense game that went down to the wire, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv bounced back and kept its Top 16 hopes alive by downing Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 74-76 on the road on Thursday. Maccabi improved to 2-6 in Group D and lived to fight for a Top 16 spot for at least one more week, while already-eliminated Sassari dropped to 0-8. Sylven Landesberg led the winners with 19 points. Guy Pnini added 16 while Taylor Rochestie had 14 for Maccabi. MarQuez Haynes led Sassari with 26 points. Jarvis Varnado added 19, Christian Eyenga scored 13 and Joe Alexander got 10 for the hosts, who were without David Logan. Landesberg struck from downtown in an opening 0-8 run and got plenty of help from Rochestie and Dragan Bander to keep Maccabi ahead, 15-18, after 10 minutes. Back-to-back triples by Pnini soon boosted the margin to 20-29. Varnado stepped up for Sassari and a three-pointer by Haynes brought the hosts within 31-36. Brian Randle and Trevor Mbakwe helped Maccabi restore a 33-40 edge at halftime. Rochestie shined after the break to keep Maccabi ahead, 52-57, through three quarters. A layup by Pnini seemed to seal the outcome, 66-73, in the next-to-last minute. Haynes hit free throws and struck twice from downtown to get Sassari within 74-76 with 37.7 seconds left. Rochestie missed a three-pointer, giving Sassari a chance to win the game, but Alexander missed from behind the arc at the buzzer.
First quarter: Landesberg put Maccabi ahead
Both teams struggled to score early until Landesberg hit a corner three-pointer. Sassari was held scoreless for more than three minutes while free throws by Arinze Onuaku and a triple in transition by Landesberg caused the hosts call timeout down 0-8. Haynes stepped up with a bomb from downtown, which Varnado followed with a layup to make it 5-8. Rochestie joined the three-point shootout, but Varnado hit a jump hook and Haynes added an off-balance fast break layup to bring the hosts within 2. Haynes buried another three-pointer, but Landesberg followed a driving layup with a turnaround jumper for a 12-15 Maccabi lead. Vanardo kept pushing Sassari, but Bender - playing small forward with Randle and Mbakwe around the baskets - sank a corner triple to keep the guests ahead. Rochestie found Mbakwe for a one-handed slam to give Maccabi a 15-20 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Varnado keeps Sassari alive
Landesberg nailed his third three-pointer early in the quarter, but Alexander answered from downtown. Maccabi had trouble circulating the ball without Rochestie on court and free throws by Varnado brought Sassari within 20-23. Rochestie returned and immediately found Pnini for an open triple. Pnini insisted from downtown, after which Sassari stopped the game down 9. Varnado swished a mid-range jumper that Randle bettered with a corner three-pointer. Landesberg and Varnado traded free throws before a fast break layup by Randle made it 24-36. Varnado kept pushing Sassari with a mid-range jumper and Eyenga hit free throws to give Sassari hope. A corner triple by Haynes caused the visitors to call timeout at 31-36. Mbakwe and Randle took over with dunks and Eyenga made free throws to fix the halftime score at 33-40.
Third quarter: Rochestie steps up for Maccabi
Maccabi continued to excel on defense with Randle and Onuaku around the baskets, but stopped finding open looks at the other end. Neither team scored for more than two minutes until Pnini buried a corner three-pointer for a 33-43 Maccabi lead. Eyenga stepped up with a driving layup, but Rochestie found Mbakwe for a slam and nailed a mid-range jumper that kept the visitors out of trouble, 35-47. Eyenga insisted with a fast break dunk and a quick basket, but Rochestie struck twice from downtown to boost Maccabi's lead 39-52. After Varnado made free throws, an unstoppable Eyenga dunked again and Alexander brought Sassari back in the game at 45-52. Sassari missed a couple of open shots and Yogev Ohayon took over with a corner triple. Haynes and Rochestie exchanged free throws and a six-meter rainbow jumper by Rok Stipcevic brought Sassari within 49-5. A wild three-point play by Haynes brought the hosts even closer, 52-57.
Fourth quarter: Sassari surges, but Maccabi survives
Landesberg hit free throws early in the fourth, which Varnado erased with a five-meter jumper. Pnini nailed a big three-pointer off a screen, but Haynes quickly answered with a six-meter jumper. Mbakwe had a huge block on Varnado, which changed the game momentum. Landesberg shined with a one-handed floater in the paint, but Alexander did better with a three-pointer. Mbakwe kept pacing Maccabi with a put-back layup, which Alexander erased with a jumper off the dribble. Brian Sacchetti took over with a fast break layup, but Ike Ofoegbu did even better with a bomb from downtown for a 63-69 Maccabi lead with over three minutes left. Eyenga split free throws and Pnini hit both attempts to make it 64-71. Mbawke took over with another block, but a jumper by Lollo D'Ercole gave Sassari hope. Pnini shined with a driving layup, but Haynes followed free throws with a wild three-pointer that brought Sassari within 71-74 with 42 seconds left. Rochestie made free throws, but Haynes hit another one from downtown to make it 74-76 with 37.7 seconds to go. Rochestie missed from downtown, leaving the door open for Sassari, but Alexander missed a triple for the win at the buzzer, allowing Maccabi to take a deep breath.
Thursday, December 3, 2015