Maccabi Tel Aviv extended its perfect start to the Euroleague Top 16 to 4-0 on Thursday night, climbing to the top of Group F with its biggest win in the competition this season - a resounding 88-67 thrashing of Partizan Belgrade at Nokia Arena.
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Despite Partizan’s surprise victory over CSKA Moscow last week, Maccabi wasn’t expected to encounter too many difficulties on Thursday and it duly made light work of the Serbs.
Tel Aviv effectively secured the victory by halftime, taking a 28-point (47-19) cushion into the break before cruising to one of its easiest wins of the season in the second half.
Following CSKA’s (3-1) 85-71 victory over Real Madrid (3-1) earlier Thursday, Maccabi is the group’s only remaining unbeaten team, a record that will face an intense inspection when the yellow- and-blue visits the Spanish capital next Thursday.
Alex Tyus led Maccabi with 16 points and nine rebounds against Belgrade, hitting all eight of his field-goal attempts.
Tyrese Rice added 15 points, with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Tarence Kinsey scoring 17 points each for Partizan (1-3).
Maccabi never really got out of third gear on Thursday, yet still completely outplayed the Serbs.
Rice began the game on the bench despite his season-high 20 points last week, but he entered the action four minutes into the encounter following Yogev Ohayon’s two quick fouls, and made his presence felt immediately.
His sixth point of the night took Tel Aviv’s margin to double- figures (20-9) and the hosts were ahead by nine points (20- 11) after 10 minutes.
Maccabi had every intention to put the contest to bed by the break and the sorry Partizan was mercilessly steamrolled.
After struggling for form in the Top 16, even Joe Ingles hit a three-pointer and Tyus’s turnaround jumper with 4:28 minutes to play in the half took the gap beyond 20 points (36-15) for the first time.
The contest was as good as over at the interval, with a Guy Pnini to Tyus alley-oop followed by a Rice lay-up taking the margin to 28 points (47-19), allowing coach David Blatt to rest his starters in the second half ahead of a busy week with two BSL games and a mouthwatering Euroleague showdown with Real Madrid.