Maccabi Tel Aviv may be in the midst of its worst-ever start to a local league
campaign, but it remained on course to finish Euroleague regular season Group D
in first place on Thursday night, beating Lokomotiv Kuban 75-73 at Nokia Arena
to improve to a 6-2 record.
Maccabi dropped to a 5-4 record in the BSL
with Monday’s 87-85 defeat at Hapoel Jerusalem, but it won for the sixth time in
its past seven continental contests on Thursday to leapfrog Kuban (6-2) into
first place by virtue of its two victories over the Russians this
Tel Aviv seemed to be on course for a relatively straightforward
victory after opening a 12-point margin (65-53) early in the fourth quarter,
only for Kuban to seize control with a 20-2 run (73-67).
would score the final eight points of the night to clinch a potentially crucial
Sofoklis Schortsanitis had 15 points for Maccabi, with David Blu
adding 13 points.
Mantas Kalnietis scored 18 points for Kuban, which will
now be hoping Tel Aviv slips-up against Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius at home next week
or versus Panathinaikos in Athens in its final regular season
Despite playing without the Euroleague MVP Derrick Brownfor the
month of November due to sickness, Kuban literally couldn’t miss a shot at the
start of the game, hitting its first four field-goal attempts, with Kalnietis’
three-pointer giving the visitors an early seven-point advantage
However, the Russians would soon cool off, hitting just two of
their next 12 attempts and Blu’s triple capped a 12-2 run (16-13), with the
yellow-and-blue leading 18-17 after 10 minutes.
Kuban hit 5-of-8
three-point attempts, with Marcus Williams’ triple giving the visitors a 40-39
edge at the break.
However, Kuban scored just a single field goal in
almost seven minutes to start the second half, allowing Maccabi to open a
double-digit gap following Blu’s three (56-46) with 3:25 to play in the
Joe Ingles’ triple ensured the hosts still held a double-figure
cushion (63-53) with 10 minutes to play and Blu’s basket to start the final
frame extended Maccabi’s gap to a record 12 points (65-53).
But just when
it seemed that the yellow-and-blue had the game under control the hosts froze
Tel Aviv scored just two more points in the subsequent seven
minutes, allowing Kuban to go on a 20-2 surge to open a 73-67 lead with 3:15
remaining on the clock.
However, Maccabi refused to be beaten, with
consecutive threes by Blu and Guy Pnini tying the score (73-73).
basket with 1:07 to play would then give Tel Aviv the lead and Williams’ miss
from beyond the arc as time expired ensured Maccabi held on for a significant