2006-07Regular SeasonRound 1
October 26, 2006 CET: 00:00
Local time: 00:00 NOKIA ARENA

Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv edged Unicaja Malaga 106-101 in an overtime thriller

Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv edged Unicaja Malaga 106-101 in an overtime thriller on Thursday night at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv, Israel. The stars were out on opening night, but it was Maccabi's duo of Will Bynum and Nikola Vujcic that shined brightest. Bynum erupted for 29 points in his Euroleague debut, while Vujcic banged his way to 14 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Unicaja had a stand out duo of its own, with Carlos Cabezas hitting for 32 points and 7 assists and Jiri Welsch scoring 15 of his 17 in the fourth quarter and overtime. The game looked to be a runaway early, as Maccabi torched Unicaja in a 34-16 opening period. But Unicaja stormed back, starting the second period with an 0-17 run. The game came down to the end, as the fourth quarter alone featured four lead changes and four ties. Vujcic put Maccabi up with half a minute left, but Cabezas forced overtime with a runner with 6.1 seconds to go. However Maccabi was the stronger side in the extra period, holding off the visitors to start Group B with a tough win. Jamie Arnold came off the bench for 17 points and 8 rebounds, Simas Jasaitis added 14, Derrick Sharp 13 and rookie Lior Eliyahu 12. Berni Rodriguez scored 15 for Unicaja, Kostas Vasileidis had 14 and Florent Pietrus scored 4, but added 9 rebounds and 4 blocks.

Maccabi won the opening tip and scored first when Eliyahu fought his way to the basket, drew a foul from Carlos Jiminez, and coolly sank both free throws. Unicaja quickly struck back on the strength of a Pepe Sanchez triple. Both teams were making their centers focal points on offense, but while Vujcic's shots bounced out, Daniel Santiago made sure of his first 2 points with a two-handed slam. Bynum got the crowd going with a driving score over Santiago, and after Jiminez scored on the offensive glass, Eliyahu stole the ball and set up Jasaitis for a fast-break dunk that made it 10-7. Berni Rodriguez immediately tied the score with a bucket and a Vujcic foul, but Maccabi was just getting started. Bynum went over Santiago again for 3 the hard way, Jasaitis added a triple, Vujcic a hook shot and Sharp two free throws for a 10-0 run put the hosts up 20-10. Santiago ended his team's drought with a dunk, but Vujcic answered on the other end. Welsch drove for a Unicaja basket, but Eliyahu continued his impressive debut with a fine assist to an open Yotam Halperin for three. A minute later, Eliyahu stole the ball and went coast-to-coast before drawing a foul and earning a standing ovation from the crowd as Unicaja called timeout. After he swished the free throws, Maccabi led 29-16. Jasaitis took charge in the final minute with a triple and then a put-back in the closing seconds to make it 34-16 after 10 minutes.

Vasileidis made an impact as the second period started, draining a three-pointer and adding a driving layup, while providing a strong defensive effort. Cabezas's triple followed to trim the gap to 10, prompting Maccabi coach Neven Spahija to call timeout. Maccabi's slide continued as Rodney Buford missed a three-pointer, but Rodriguez and Cabezas didn't at the other end. Pietrus was making everything tough for the hosts' attack with fantastic defense. Soon Spahija put his starting five back in, as Rodriguez added 2 free throws and Pietrus another to cap a 17-0 run. Sharp finally put Maccabi on the board from downtown and Jamie Arnold, fresh in for Eliyahu, stole and darted coast-to-coast that made it 39-33. Pietrus's slam showed that Unicaja wasn't going to cave in, as the game grew in intensity. Arnold's mid-range jumper put Maccabi up 8 points, Vasileidis countered with a triple, and a little later 2 free throws to boot. Then Erazem Lorbek scored his first points from beyond the arc, cutting the deficit to 49-47, before Cabezas completed the visitors' comeback from the line. Maccabi couldn't score on the final possession as the teams headed to the locker rooms tied at 49-49.

Bynum put Maccabi on top with a layup on the first play of the second half, but despite the players fresh legs, many shots were bouncing out. Santiago countered with 2 inside. Pietrus continued to be a factor, drawing a foul from Eliyahu and swatting Bynum's effort, but Eliyahu dominated when he got the ball, scoring on four consecutive possessions to make it 59-54. However Rodriguez and co. weren't done. Berni and Vasileidis chipped into the lead from the line and then Cabezas silenced the crowd with a triple that gave Unicaja its first lead since the opening minute, 61-63. After a Maccabi timeout, Arnold tied the score from the low post and after Santiago stumbled and was called for traveling, Arnold hit an outside jumper. Then Bynum made a triple, but Cabezas was there with three the hard way to keep the visitors close. Another Bynum three was met by a Rodriguez three, so the Maccabi point guard tried a different way, scoring over and drawing a foul from Santiago to make it 74-70 and give Bynum 20 points. But a red-hot Cabezas matched that too, giving him 23 on the night and keeping Unicaja within 74-73 with one period to play.

Welsch started the fourth quarter by giving Unicaja the lead, but Vujcic brought it back Maccabi's way a minute later. Inaki De Miguel's first points were met by a Vujcic dunk, as neither team was able to pull away. Arnold went inside, scored and drew a foul from Lorbek, but after he missed the free throw, Welsch tied the score at 80-80 with a triple from the corner. The game was turning more and more physical, as both teams badly wanted to win. Vujcic found an open Sharp for a three as the 24-second clock expired to lift Maccabi once more, but Welsch, sporting the hot-hand for the Spanish champs, answered. Bynum put Maccabi up 86-82 with a short jumper and Unicaja's hopes started to dwindle when Welsch made only one-of-two from the line, before Bynum's one-armed prayer somehow rolled in. After Cabezas scored, Unicaja had another chance to close in, but Vujcic blocked Welsch's shot. However Vujic and Maccabi were stifled by Pietrus on the other end and Cabezas's fourth three of the game tied the score at 88-88 with 40 seconds left. Vujcic came through from the line, and Unicaja called timeout. Coach Sergio Scariolo put the ball in Cabezas's hands and the he didn't disappoint, driving on Sharp to tie the game at 90-90 with 6.1 ticks on the clock. Maccabi didn't call timeout and couldn't get a good shot off as the game went to overtime.

The tired teams took nearly a minute-and-a-half before scoring in overtime, with Jasaitis, who hadn't found the basket since the first period, giving Maccabi the lead with a layup. Rodriguez answered, before Sharp scored three the hard way to make it 95-92. Cabezas drove the lane for another 2 points, but his Maccabi counterpart, Bynum, scored two from the line to keep the hosts on top 97-94. Eliyahu fouled out trying to get in front of Welsch, who made one-of-two of the the resulting foul shots. Arnold corrected Bynum's miss on the other end on back-to-back plays, as Maccabi jumped out to a 101-95 lead with 49.8 seconds left, prompting Scariolo to call timeout. Welsch, again at the line, again made one-of-two, as did Arnold for Maccabi. Then Welsch pulled up for a three to bring Unicaja within 102-99, but Sharp's free throws with 33.2 to go followed by an Unicaja turnover sealed the game's fate. Bynum scored a pair from the line, and even Welsch's two made free throws were too little, too late as Maccabi celebrated a 106-101 win.

Thursday, October 26, 2006
Attendance: 10500
By Quarter1234Extra 1
Maccabi Elite3415251616
Unicaja Malaga1633241711
End of Quarter1234Extra 1
Maccabi Elite34497490106
Unicaja Malaga16497390101
Maccabi Elite
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 BYNUM, WILL 41:00 29 8/17 2/7 7/8 1 1 2 4 2 3 1 4 3 10 23
5 FELIX, NOEL 3:30     0/1           1       1 1  
6 SHARP, DERRICK 28:30 13 1/4 2/3 5/5 1 1 2   2     1 4 3 11
7 VUJCIC, NIKOLA 30:30 14 6/12   2/2 3 7 10 7 2 1 2   4 3 27
8 ELIYAHU, LIOR 30:45 12 4/9   4/6 2 4 6 2 2     1 5 4 13
9 ARNOLD, JAMIE 19:15 17 8/10   1/3 3 5 8   2 1     2 3 23
11 SHASON, SHARON DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
12 FANAN, REGEV DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
13 JASAITIS, SIMAS 36:00 14 4/4 2/4   2   2           5   9
14 GREEN, YANIV 4:30   0/1       1 1 1             1
15 BUFORD, RODNEY 8:00   0/2 0/1           1 1         -3
21 HALPERIN, YOTAM 23:00 7 2/3 1/3   1 4 5 2         3 1 9
Team           2 3 5   2           7
Totals 225:00 106 33/62 7/19 19/24 15 26 41 16 14 6 3 6 27 25 120
        53.2% 36.8% 79.2%
Head coach: SPAHIJA, NEVEN
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
Unicaja Malaga
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 SANCHEZ, PEPE 3:30 3 0/1 1/2     2 2     1     1   1
5 RODRIGUEZ, BERNI 44:30 15 2/5 2/5 5/5   3 3 5   3   1 4 5 14
7 VASILEIADIS, KOSTAS 19:00 14 2/2 2/5 4/5   2 2   1       3 4 14
9 WELSCH, JIRI 29:30 17 3/6 2/3 5/8 2 3 5     2 1 1 3 7 17
10 CABEZAS, CARLOS 41:30 32 7/11 4/6 6/6 2 4 6 6   1     3 7 41
11 PIETRUS, FLORENT 25:30 4 1/3   2/4 2 7 9       4   1 2 14
15 DE MIGUEL, IGNACIO 4:30 2 1/1     1 1 2   1 2     1   2
19 ERMOLINSKIJ, PAVEL DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
20 JIMENEZ, CARLOS 10:00 2 1/2 0/1   2 1 3   1     1 2   1
21 LORBEK, ERAZEM 30:00 4   1/5 1/2   5 5 2   1 1   4 2 4
22 SANCHEZ, ALFONSO DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
25 SANTIAGO, DANIEL 17:00 8 4/5               4     3    
Team                   3           3
Totals 225:00 101 21/36 12/27 23/30 9 28 37 13 6 14 6 3 25 27 111
        58.3% 44.4% 76.7%
This game is not yet played

Head Coaches

Maccabi Elite
“I want to congratulate my team. If you ask me, we played a bad game, but we won. It's best to learn from these games when we win. We had a great first quarter. I said in the past that we are ready to play maybe 25 minutes at the top level and that's what happened. We won the game and that's most important. We will be much better. Rodney played one bad game. Maybe it was the pressure. I know he's a good player and I know I have to explain to him what to do. Small details win the game. Jamie Arnold's offensive rebounds were important. I heard what people around me were saying when i took Nikola out for Jamie, but I knew that they were having trouble guarding Will, Pietrus was coming to help and that we could get offensive rebounds if we paid attention. Our defense was terrible. I also want to congratulate Cabezas. It was the best game in his life. I've seen him I don't know how many times and I've never seen him like this."
Unicaja Malaga
“I want to congratulate Maccabi for the win. They controlled the game at the important times in overtime. Rebounds, especially the important rebounds went to Maccabi and we had trouble with Will Bynum's penetration. I want to congratulate my players for their spirit. We lost the game and are not terribly satisfied, but we took a step in the right direction and we must continue from here. Neither team here is 100% ready for the season, the game was exciting and in some ways spectacular. People were able to enjoy emotional game with many mistakes. The teams were ready to compete.”


Maccabi Elite
"The most important thing is that we won the game. The fans excited me very much, more than anything else. Basketball is a game of runs. In the second quarter we allowed them to run and come back to the game instead of finishing them off. In the last minutes we made some good plays and it allowed us to finish with a great win. We still need to improve. We need to be in focus the whole time and not just 10 or 20 minutes, then everything will look much better. We are still a new team. It was a great game. We played well, but we all need to focus more on defense and improve it."
Maccabi Elite
 "I'm happy coach let me play. We knew the pressure would burst out, but we didn't know in what direction. Unicaja showed a lot of character when they came back to the game. We got nervous. I'm happy that we were able to win the game."
Unicaja Malaga
"We came here with confidence. We could have won this game, but it didn't work out and we're disappointed. I don't think we lost the game in the last minutes, I think we lost it in the first quarter when Maccabi took a big lead. We came back and finished the half tied, but it took a lot of energy from us."
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