Mac TA survives game of Russian roulette

Blu’s long-distance dagger catapults yellow-and-blue over BC Khimki, into control of Group A; Tel Aviv shows its character.

November 12, 2010 08:02
3 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv

Maccabi Tel Aviv against Moscow 311. (photo credit: AP)

A last-gasp David Blu three-pointer gave Maccabi Tel Aviv its third straight Euroleague victory on Thursday night, an impressive 78-76 win at BC Khimki Moscow.

Despite taking a double-digit margin into the break (42-31), Maccabi looked to be heading to a defeat when Khimki opened a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter.

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However, Tel Aviv would get what it deserved from a gutsy performance, with Blu’s three with 1.5 seconds to play improving the yellow-and-blue’s record to 3-1, taking it top of Euroleague’s Group A.

“This is a very special and impressive victory,” Maccabi coach David Blatt said. “It is a result of our hard work and our belief in our ability. Khimki needed the win and fought for it, but we found the way to claim the victory.”

Sofoklis Schortsanitis had 16 points and seven rebounds for Maccabi, but it was a true team effort which got Blatt’s men the win on Thursday.

Chuck Eidson added 16 points and Guy Pnini scored 11, but perhaps the most notable performance was that of Doron Perkins.

The American guard’s statistics of four points, six rebounds and three assists, sound far from extraordinary, but Perkins was superb on both ends of the floor when it mattered most and it was his contribution which made the difference.

Kresimir Loncar led five Khimki players in double-figures with 15 points.

Maccabi’s defense gave it control of the encounter right from the start, with the hosts scoring just two points in the first eight-and-a-half minutes of the game.

A Tal Burstein lay-up with 2:30 to go in the first quarter capped Tel Aviv ‘s 16-2 start to the game, and despite Khimki scoring eight points in the final 80 seconds of the period, Maccabi had a significant 19-10 advantage after 10 minutes following an Eidson three.

After holding Zalgiris Kaunas to 11 first-quarter points two weeks ago and stopping Partizan Belgrade on 10 points in the first 10 minutes last week, Maccabi was surely hoping that its excellent early defense against Khimki would lead to yet another easy win.

However, the Russians would not go down without putting up a fight and ate away at Maccabi’s margin as the second period progressed.

Raul Lopez’s three with four minutes to play in the first half cut the gap to one possession (29-26), but Tel Aviv bounced back with a 13-5 run and took a comfortable double-digit lead (42-31) into the second half. Pargo’s freethrows at the beginning of the third quarter extended the gap to a record 15 points (46-31), giving the visitors an important cushion.

However, Maccabi would score just 10 more points in the remainder of the period and Khimki finally found its range.

Two straight Sergey Monya threes brought the Muscovites within three points (50-47) and Loncar’s buzzerbeater gave the hosts their first lead of the night, 58-56 with 10 minutes to play.

Khimki pulled further ahead at the start of the final frame, opening a 65- 58 lead after another Monya triple.

However, Tel Aviv showed its character, and a Blu three followed by sixstraight Sofo points closed the gap to a single point (70-69).

An Eidson triple soon after tied the score at 72-72 with 2:40 to play and the game would come down to the final minute.

Pargo’s three gave Maccabi the lead (75-74), but a Loncar basket at the other end put the hosts ahead with 35 seconds remaining.

A Pargo miss gave Khimki the chance to increase its margin, only for Eidson to crucially steal the ball.

Pargo would miss once more, but Perkins pulled down the offensive rebound and passed the ball to Blu to clinch the win with a dramatic three.

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