(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv moved to within one victory of advancing to the Euroleague
Final Four on Tuesday night, thrashing Caja Laboral Vitoria 81-60 at Nokia Arena
to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five quarterfinal series.
After a tight
first period, Tel Aviv built a double-figure lead (41-30) by halftime and
outscored the Spaniards 28-15 in the third quarter to open an unassailable
Maccabi completely outplayed Caja in the second and third quarters,
holding the visitors to 22 points, one less than they scored in the first
Tel Aviv may have needed a dramatic Jeremy Pargo winner to
steal Game 2 in Spain, but it won with surprising ease on Tuesday night and is
now within touching distance of a return to the showcase event of European
basketball’s premier competition after two seasons out.
yellow-and-blue will look to close out the series when it hosts Game 4 on
Thursday, but it will have to do so without Doron Perkins, who twisted his knee
at the start of the second quarter on Tuesday and could be out for the remainder
of the season.
Pargo took the reins in the absence of Perkins, scoring 23
points, including four three-pointers, with David Blu adding 16 points, also
hitting four triples.
“This game means nothing at all ahead of Thursday,”
Pargo said. “We have a big game coming up and we will have to continue and play
We wanted to be ourselves tonight and we got going in the second
quarter and opened a significant lead.”
Led by Pargo and Blu, Maccabi hit
11 of 25 three-point attempts on Tuesday, far better than Vitoria, which is the
best perimeter shooting team in the competition and shot 50 percent in the first
two games of the series, but went just five of 22 on Tuesday.
Teletovic had 14 points for Vitoria, but the visitors were forced to 15
turnovers by Maccabi and will have to improve the ball handling to have any
chance of tying up the series on Thursday and sending the series back to Spain
for Game 5.
Pargo picked up where he left off in Game 2, scoring the
first two points of the night to put Maccabi in front.
teams looked sharp at the start of the encounter and the lead would exchange
hands numerous times in the first period.
A Teletovic three-pointer,
taking him to seven points on the night, gave Vitoria the lead midway through
the first frame, but after David Blu and Fernando San Emeterio traded triples it
was Maccabi which has a slender lead (22-20).
The hosts still held a
small margin (24- 23) after 10 minutes, but suffered a significant blow 13
seconds into the second frame when Doron Perkins hit the floor hard and had to
taken to the dressing room.
Nevertheless, the quarter would be dominated
by Maccabi, which held Caja to just two points in the first seven minutes to
open a double-digit margin.
Tel Aviv’s defense was forcing turnovers and
even when the visitors managed to get their shots off they seemed to always have
a hand in their face.
Two Pargo threes within 23 seconds took him to 15
points for the game and opened a 36-25 lead with five minutes to play in the
Maccabi missed a couple of opportunities to increase its gap
even further, but Milan Macvan’s triple to end the half ensured the hosts still
held an important cushion (41-30) at the break.
Tel Aviv continued to
extend its gap at the start of the second half thanks to a shooting clinic by
The forward was unstoppable from beyond the arc, hitting three
triples in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the quarter to give Maccabi a
The fact the Spaniards were playing their fifth game in 10
days began to show in the second half, with Vitoria’s tired legs struggling to
keep pace with Tel Aviv’s murderous offensive pace.
A three-point play by
Pargo was followed by a Lior Eliyahu dunk and the hosts led 59-38 six minutes
into the second half.
Vitoria simply had no answers for Maccabi, and
especially Pargo. The sensational playmaker capped the third quarter with
another three, his fourth of the game, to open a 24-point margin (69-45) that
Tel Aviv would easily hold on to en route to taking a 2-1 lead in the series.