Laboral sneaks by yellow-and-blue again

Maccabi moved into first place in Group D with four consecutive victories after falling to an 84-80 loss in Vitoria in its Euroleague opener.

November 22, 2013 01:10
2 minute read.
Mac TA's Shawn James shoots over Laboral's Tibor Pleiss

Mac TA's Shawn James shoots over Laboral's Tibor Pleiss 370. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)


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Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Euroleague winning streak was snapped at four games on Thursday night following a 70-65 defeat to Laboral Vitoria at Nokia Arena.

Maccabi moved into first place in Group D with four consecutive victories after falling to an 84-80 loss in Vitoria in its Euroleague opener.

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However, three days after dropping to a defeat to Hapoel Tel Aviv in BSL action, Maccabi looked extremely vulnerable once more on Thursday, losing to a Laboral team which had lost three of four games following its first victory over the yellow- and-blue.

Shawn James had 16 points and six rebounds for Maccabi, with David Blu scoring 12 and Ricky Hickman adding 11 points, but hitting just 3-of-10 field goal attempts.

Tibor Pleiss led four Vitoria players in double figures with 16 points.

The effects from Monday’s dejecting derby defeat to Hapoel Tel Aviv were evident early on, and Vitoria took full advantage of the yellow-and-blue’s lack of confidence.

Maccabi was outplayed and outhustled against a supposedly inferior Hapoel team and also lacked urgency at the start of Thursday’s encounter.

Vitoria dominated the boards throughout the night, especially on offense, and David Jelinek’s three-pointer after yet another rebound saw the visitors open an early double-digit lead (15-5).

However, Maccabi would soon find its range and David Blu’s steal and dunk capped an 11-2 run (17-16).

Walter Hodge’s three to beat the first quarter buzzer ensured Vitoria still held an edge (20-16), but the visitors would find points far harder to come by in the second period and Ricky Hickman’s free throws with 1:11 to play in the half handed Tel Aviv its first lead of the night (33-31).

Maccabi took a one-point advantage (35-34) into the break and held Vitoria scoreless for over three minutes to mount an 8-0 run and open a nine-point cushion (43-34).

However, Tel Aviv couldn’t consolidate its advantage, scoring just six points in the final seven minutes of the third quarter.

The Spaniards, on the other hand, added 17 points to their tally and Milko Bjelica’s triple put the visitors in front (51-49) ahead of the final 10 minutes.

Maccabi’s struggles on the offensive end continued in the fourth frame, with Jelinek’s basket midway through the quarter opening a six-point margin at 59-53.

However, a contentious refereeing call at a crucial moment gifted Devin Smith free throws instead of handing the visitors three shots from the line and Shawn James’ points made it a one possession game once more (63-61).

Maccabi had its chances to complete a comeback, but Hickman missed a decisive shot and Jelinek’s jumper with 20 seconds to play secured Vitoria a precious victory.

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