Maccabi Tel Aviv breathed new life into its Euroleague Top 16 campaign on
Thursday night, thrashing Besiktas JK 77- 55 in Istanbul to improve to 2- 4 in
Maccabi entered the game still reeling from last week’s
heartbreaking home defeat to Olympiacos, but it showed no lasting effects in
Turkey, cruising to a much-needed confidence- boosting victory against the
group’s weakest side.
Despite the win, Maccabi has still got plenty more
ground to make up if it intends to finish among the top four in the group and
advance to the quarterfinals.
The yellow-and-blue can take a significant
step in that direction with a win against Spanish powerhouse Barcelona at Nokia
Arena in its next Euroleague game in two weeks time.
Lior Eliyahu led
Maccabi with 14 points, while Nik Caner-Medley scored 12 for the yellow-andblue,
which finally found its range from beyond the arc, hitting 9-of-16
“We set the tone with our defensive play in the first
half and seized control of the game and won it quite easily,” said Maccabi coach
“Besiktas may not be the best team in Europe, but we still
have some hope in this group.
“The game against Barcelona will determine
how far we’ll go in the Euroleague this season.”
Serhat Cetin had 13
points for Besiktas, which shot 19 percent (5-of-26) from three-point range to
drop to 0-6 in Group F.
Caner-Medley scored Maccabi’s first six points of
the night to give the visitors a lead (6-4) they wouldn’t relinquish.
Shawn James dunk capped a 10-0 run (10-4) and Maccabi was in complete control
after the first period, with David Logan’s buzzer-beater opening a 21-12
Besiktas had no answer to Maccabi’s suffocating defense and Logan
gave the yellowand- blue a 12-point cushion (24-12) with two more points on the
It took the Turks more than seven second quarter minutes to
add to their tally and by that stage the contest was as good as
Eliyahu, Sylven Landesberg and Devin Smith all got in on the act,
with a Smith freethrow taking the margin to 25 points (37-12), completing a 16-0
surge to start the quarter.
A thunderous Landesberg dunk to end the
period capped Maccabi’s sensational first half, opening a 21-point lead (43-22)
from which Besiktas never threatened to come back.
Maccabi returns to
Israel on Friday and will immediately begin its preparations for Sunday’s State
Cup quarterfinal against Hapoel Holon at Nokia Arena.
The first two
quarterfinals will be played on Saturday, with Hapoel Jerusalem hosting Hapoel
Eilat at Malha Arena and Maccabi Haifa visiting Bnei Herzliya.
crashed to a 17- point BSL defeat to Maccabi Ashdod on Monday, while Eilat
climbed up to second place in the standings with a 79-66 victory over Hapoel
Gilboa/Galil, its third win in four games.
However, Eilat will be without
star swingman Scotty Hopson on Saturday after he broke a finger during training
Jerusalem and Eilat also met at Malha just over a month ago,
with the hosts winning 85-79.
Jerusalem’s Elishay Kadir hasn’t played
since that league win over Eilat due to a knee injury, but he should be fit for
After a promising start to the season, Haifa has lost three of
its past four contests, while Bnei Herzliya has been one of the hottest teams in
the league over the past couple of months, winning five of its past seven
Also Sunday, Maccabi Be’er Ya’akov, the only remaining National
League representative, hosts Ashdod.
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