Maccabi Tel Aviv's Lior Eliyahu 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv effectively secured its place in the Euroleague Top 16 on
Thursday night, beating Olimpia Milano 85-76 at Nokia Arena to improve to 5-1 in
For a fifth straight week, Maccabi had to dig deep before
recording the victory, but coach David Blatt won’t mind one bit as long his team
Milano handed Maccabi its only continental defeat so
far this season in the regular season opener, but despite giving Tel Aviv a
fight once more, the Italians could find no answer for Sofoklis Schortsanitis at
his beastly best.
The Greek center scored a Euroleague career-high 28
points, hitting nine of 12 field goals while also grabbing six
Jordan Farmar was excellent yet again, especially in the fourth
period, scoring 21 points, grabbing six rebounds and passing five assists for
Tel Aviv, which out-rebounded Milano 41-22.
Danilo Gallinari had 24 points
for Milano, which fell to 2-4 on the season.
Multiple turnovers and
missed layups meant it took Maccabi two-and-a-half minutes to get on the board,
but once Sofo scored his team’s first points of the night he couldn’t be
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The Greek big-man scored Tel Aviv’s first seven points, and with
Gallinari inexplicably starting the game on the bench, it wouldn’t take long
before the hosts built a lead.
Sofo’s three-point play with 3:25
remaining in the first period took his tally to 12 points and Maccabi opened a
Farmar’s free throws to end the first quarter ensured
Maccabi had a double-digit cushion (25-14) after 10 minutes and the
yellow-and-blue’s lead reached 15 points (29-14) early in the second
A Gallinari three with 4:20 to play in the half cut the gap to
eight points (39-31), giving the visitors some hope, but seven Farmar points
quickly reestablished a double-figure cushion and Sofo capped a superb first
half with a tip-in at the buzzer, taking his personal total to 22 points and
increasing Maccabi’s advantage to 14 (52-38).
However, the game was far
from over. Milano opened the second half with a 10-0 run, with Malik Hairston’s
jumper after three minutes bringing the Italians within four points
Antonis Fotsis’ triple soon after closed the gap to a mere three
points (54-51) and the game was still wide open with 10 minutes to play, with
the hosts leading by just five points (67-62).
However, Farmar had no
intention of allowing Milano to come any closer in the fourth quarter, with the
New Jersey Nets guard scoring seven quick points at the start of the period to
open a significant cushion (74-64) Maccabi would maintain to claim yet another
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