Maccabi TA 311.
(photo credit: MK Productions)
Any notion that last week’s Maccabi Tel Aviv victory over Real Madrid was no more than an aberration was dispelled on Thursday night after the yellow-and-blue defeated Efes Pilsen 72-62 at the Nokia Arena, boosting its hopes of making the Euroleague quarterfinals.
Maccabi was in inspired form for a second straight week, dominating on defense and outrebounding the Turks 43-26.
Alan Anderson was outstanding for Tel Aviv yet again, scoring 23 points, hitting 8-of-8 shots from two-point range.
“We’re playing together and we’re playing hard and when we do that we are tough to beat,” said Anderson, who also grabbed nine rebounds.
Thursday’s victory improves Maccabi’s record in Group F of the Top 16 to 2-1 and puts it in a promising position ahead of its next Euroleague game away at Pilsen in two weeks time.
David Bluthenthal and Guy Pnini scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, for Maccabi, which hit 21 of 34 shots from two-point range.
Charles Smith led Pilsen with 15 points, but the visitors scored just 20 percent from beyond the arc (4 of 20) and recorded just nine assists in the entire game.
Maccabi began the game with the same desire and determination it displayed against Madrid last week and an Andrew Wisniewski three-pointer midway through the first period gave the hosts a 10-6 lead.
Tel Aviv dominated the boards and owed its first-quarter lead to nine second-chance points.
A Bluthenthal basket from an offensive rebound, Maccabi’s sixth of the period, opened a five-point gap (16-11) which Tel Aviv would maintain until the end of the quarter (18-13).
Anderson was limited in the first 10 minutes after picking up two quick fouls, but his three at the start of the second period gave Maccabi a 22-13 margin.
Tel Aviv’s excellent defense was frustrating the Turks and a Pnini lay-up with just over two minutes remaining in the first half extended the lead to double-digits for the first time (33-23).
However, Maccabi lost its composure in the final two minutes of the frame, and despite hitting just one of 12 shots from beyond the arc in the first half Pilsen was down by just three points at the break (36-33).
The momentum remained on Pilsen’s side at the start of the second half and it wasn’t long before the visitors took their first lead of the night. A Bootsy Thornton basket four minutes into the period gave the Turks a 44-42 advantage, but it was Maccabi which took a slender 51-49 lead into the fourth quarter.
Points were hard to come by at the beginning of the period and
Bluthenthal’s accurate free-throws opened a 61-55 gap. Pilsen quickly
closed to within three points, but Anderson was on hand to ensure the
hosts maintained a two possession margin.
Pilsen continued to
fight, but superb defending kept the visitors at bay and Bluthenthal’s
triple with 1:27 to play gave Maccabi a 10-point lead (70-60) and a