Mac TA survives in OT to keep hopes alive

Yellow-and-blue blow late lead but edge Panathinaikos in the extra period to knot series at one.

By
March 23, 2012 05:54
3 minute read.
GUY PNINI’S (left) Maccabi Tel Aviv

Maccabi 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

What a difference 48 hours can make.

Two days after being trounced by Panathinaikos in Game 1 of the Euroleague quarterfinals, Maccabi Tel Aviv recorded one of its more remarkable victories in recent memory on Thursday night, beating the Greeks 94-92 in overtime to tie the best-of-five series at 1-1.

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Maccabi was completely outplayed on Tuesday on the way to a 93-73 defeat, but showed true courage and heart in Game 2, blowing an eightpoint fourth period lead, but coming back to claim a classic win in overtime.

Keith Langford had 17 points for Maccabi, which hosts Games 3 and 4 at Nokia Arena next Tuesday and Thursday.

David Blu added 16 points, including two clutch three-pointers, with Yogev Ohayon and Devin Smith scoring 15 each.

Kostas Kaimakoglou had 20 points for Pao.

It seemed like Pao has picked up where it left off on Tuesday after Dimitris Diamantidis’s three-pointer opened an early 10-6 lead.

Two straight triples by Kostas Tsartsaris to end the first quarter gave Pao a 24-20 lead after 10 minutes and Maccabi found itself with its back against the wall after David Logan’s turnaround jumper increased the gap to seven points (29-22).

However, this time Maccabi didn’t crack under the pressure, with Keith Langford’s lay-up tying the game once more (34-34).

Yogev Ohayon’s desperation three as the shot clock was about to expire gave Maccabi its first lead of the night (39-38) with 2:26 remaining in the half, and despite entering the break down by two points (43-41) following Kaimakoglou’s three, Tel Aviv coach David Blatt couldn’t have really asked for a better response following Tuesday’s drubbing.

Blatt was even happier after Ohayon’s three-point move to start the second half put Maccabi back in front, with two more sensational baskets by the young Israeli guard followed by a Devin Smith three taking the yellowand- blue’s margin to 61-54 with 1:37 left in the third period.

Pao scored the last four points of the quarter to make it a one possession game (61-58) with 10 minutes to play, but it was Maccabi which got the fourth frame off to the better start, with the visitors holding the hosts scoreless for the first two minutes of the period before a Smith three opened a double-digit cushion (68-58).

Two triples by Diamantidis threatened to spark a Pao run, but an Ohayon three followed by a Langford basket saw the gap mushroom to eight points (75-67) with 4:20 on the clock.

However, Pao got right back into the game with an 8-1 run, with Romain Sato’s free throws cutting the margin to a single point (76-75).

Theo Papaloukas ensured Maccabi still held the lead (80-77) with four straight points, but Batiste’s dunk with 1:07 to play tied the score at 81-81.

David Blu put Maccabi back in front with a tough jumper and the visitors had a chance to move further ahead after a Batiste turnover.

However, Langford had his shot blocked and Kaimakoglou leveled the score at 83-83 from the free throw line with 13 seconds remaining.

That left Maccabi with plenty of time to win the game, but the yellowand- blue couldn’t even get a shot off before the final buzzer and the encounter went into overtime.

There was still nothing to separate the teams in the extra five minutes, with a Blu three making it 90-90 with 1:50 left.

Batiste made it 92-90, but a stunning Blu triple with 30 seconds to go put Maccabi back in front (93-92).

Langford only hit one free throw with 18 seconds remaining, but Pao couldn’t score at the other end and Maccabi clinched a memorable victory.


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