After being ruled out for up to two weeks due to an ankle sprain just a day
earlier, Sofoklis Schortsanitis scored 22 points in 15 minutes on Thursday night
to lead Maccabi Tel Aviv to an 85-75 victory over Lokomotiv Kuban at Nokia
The Greek center was supposed to be out for between 10 and 14
days, but recovered unexpectedly quickly and scored 9-of-11 field-goal attempts
before hobbling off the floor at the final buzzer.
After reaching 85
points just once in its 10 Euroleague regular season games, Maccabi hit the mark
for a second straight week on Thursday.
The yellow-and-blue hit 25-of-40
shots from two-point range, 9-of-27 three-pointers while registering 25
Devin Smith provided another superb performance at both ends of
the floor, recording 15 points and 12 rebounds, with Tyrese Rice finishing with
12 points. Maccabi recorded its 11th straight win in all competitions and
improved to 2-0 in the Top 16 with its 10th victory from its past 11 Euroleague
games. David Blatt’s men visit Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania next
Mantas Kalnietis had 18 points for Kuban, which dropped to
Sofo seemed set to miss at least two Euroleague games after
Wednesday’s diagnosis, but he surprisingly started for the hosts and wasted no
time in making his presence felt.
The Greek center recorded two of his
better games of the season against Kuban in the regular season and Lokomotiv’s
coach Evgeny Pashutin spoke of his concern about facing Sofo once more ahead of
He knew exactly what he was talking about, with
Schortsanitis finishing the first quarter with 14 points, hitting all six of his
However, Sofo got little help on offense from his
teammates, and despite his heroics, the score was tied at 21-21 after 10
With Sofo soon picking up quick fouls in characteristic fashion,
Maccabi had to look elsewhere in the second period.
The rest of the
roster picked up the slack before the Greek’s only basket of the quarter opened
a nine-point cushion (35-26).
Maccabi took a 45-38 lead into the second
half, but Kuban would score seven of the first eight points of the third frame
to close to within a single point (45-44) before moving in front (55-54)
following Derrick Brown’s jumper with just under three minutes to play in the
A Rice three-pointer to beat the third-period buzzer ensured
Maccabi had the edge (64-62) entering the final 10 minutes and five straight
points by Smith would increase the gap to 77-68. Another Rice basket would
complete a game-winning 16-4 (85-70) run and secure Tel Aviv another impressive
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