Another stellar performance by Mac TA

Maccabi hammers Partizan 76-62 to secure first-place finish in Group A.

December 9, 2010 23:56
2 minute read.
Doron Perkins

Perkins 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Only seven weeks ago, it seemed all but impossible that Maccabi Tel Aviv would be able to compete with Europe’s best this season.

Maccabi was humbled by Caja Laboral Vitoria in its Euroleague opener in Spain, and there were serious doubts if the roster assembled by coach David Blatt would reach the level required to challenge for a quarterfinal berth, not to mention the Final Four.

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Seven straight wins later, Maccabi has clinched top position in Group A with two games to spare, and at this early stage of the season is looking like a team capable of beating even the continent’s biggest guns.

Tel Aviv thrashed Partizan Belgrade 76-62 at the Nokia Arena on Thursday night to lock up a number 1 seed in the Top 16 draw, ensuring a relatively easier route to the last eight.

Maccabi was never really tested in what quickly became a one-sided affair, once more opening a double-digit lead in the first period (23-11) before all but clinching the victory by halftime (42-24), rendering the second half almost meaningless.

Lior Eliyahu led Maccabi with 16 points, shooting a perfect eight of eight from the field.

Jeremy Pargo added 14 points, with Chuck Eidson contributing in almost every category yet again, scoring 13 points, grabbing nine rebounds, dishing four assists and recording three steals for Maccabi, which shot 31 of 50 from two-point range (62%).

James Gist had 14 points for Partizan, which fell to 4-4.

Getting games off to a fast start has become a Maccabi trademark this season, and Thursday night was no different.

Eliyahu scored the first points of the night, and with just over three minutes played, Tel Aviv was ahead by nine (11-2) following another easy basket by the talented Israeli forward.

Partizan managed to score just 54 points in its home defeat to Maccabi last month, and it struggled to break down David Blatt’s defensive game plan once more at Nokia.

Practically every shot the visitors took was contested by a Maccabi player and a Tal Burstein lay-up opened Tel Aviv’s first double-digit lead (18-7) of the game.

The hosts maintained a comfortable cushion until the end of the period (23-11), but Belgrade mounted a mini-comeback at the start of the second quarter, going on a 6-0 run – which was capped by a Gist basket – to close within six (23-17).

However, that would prove to be as close as the Serbs would come until the end of the game, with Maccabi scoring 19 of the next 24 points to open an unassailable margin.

Yaniv Green, Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Eidson all got in the act and Doron Perkins’s threepoint play with 50 seconds remaining in the first half opened a 42-22 lead, with Maccabi cruising at the break, leading by 18 points (42-24).

Any lingering hope Partizan may have had of making a comeback in the second half was quickly quashed by Maccabi, with the hosts beginning the third period with a 12-4 run before sailing trouble-free the rest of the way to secure first place.

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