Maccabi Tel Aviv got its Euroleague campaign off to a promising start on
Thursday night, defeating Unicaja Malaga 85-80 in Spain.
each of its past two Euroleague seasons with road defeats, Maccabi opened a
double-digit margin (47-36) after an impressive first half on Thursday and
survived a Malaga comeback to clinch the win thanks to a Yogev Ohayon-inspired
10-0 fourth-quarter run.
“I always said that we have a good team and I
liked what I saw tonight,” said Maccabi’s delighted coach David
“Even though there were moments that we struggled in the third
quarter we were ready enough to win a very important and difficult
Ricky Hickman led Maccabi with 16 points, four rebounds and four
assists, with David Logan and Lior Eliyahu scoring 14 and 13 points,
Guy Pnini added 11 points for Tel Aviv, which passed 16
assists and won its road opener for the first time since 2004, which was also
the last season it lifted the Euroleague title.
Earl Calloway had 25
points for Malaga, which also got 19 points from Krunoslav Simon.
scored the first five points of the night, but Pnini’s three-pointer tied the
An Eliyahu steal and lay-up gave Maccabi its first lead of
the game (19- 17) and Malcolm Thomas’s first points for the yellow-and-blue
capped a 10-0 run which opened an eight-point gap (25-17).
ended the first quarter with another triple to close within five points (25-20),
but the second period would belong to Tel Aviv.
New boys Sylven
Landesberg, Hickman and Logan all got in on the act, with Maccabi going on an
18-5 run to start the frame to take an 18-point cushion (43-25).
straight points by the lively Shawn James completed the surge midway through the
quarter, but the win was far from secure at the break after Maccabi scored just
four points in the remainder of the half, allowing the Spaniards to close to
Maccabi scored two baskets at the start of the second half to
increase its margin to 15 points (51-36), but its offensive woes continued after
that, failing to hit another field goal in the quarter.
ate away at the gap, with Calloway’s three capping a 9-0 run, bringing the hosts
back within one possession (56-54).
Maccabi would steady the ship with
the help of the refs, with Giorgi Shermadini hitting four straight free
However, despite scoring 13 times from the foul line in the
period, the momentum was squarely on Malaga’s side entering the final frame,
with the hosts trailing by just two points (65-63).
But after a quiet
first three periods, Ohayon took charge at the start of the fourth quarter and
led Maccabi to the win.
Ohayon scored six straight points before
providing an acrobatic assist for a Pnini basket which opened a 12-point
Malaga cut the gap to six points (77- 71) with four
minutes to play and closed to within three in the final minute, but Maccabi held
on for a very encouraging road win.