maccabi arroyo 248.88 asaf kliger.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Maccabi Tel Aviv got back to the basics on Monday night, and knotted up its quarterfinals series with Ironi Ashkelon at 1-1, cruising to an easy 86-69 road victory.
After suffering a stunning defeat on its home court at Nokia Arena in Game 1, Maccabi knew it could not afford any more slip-ups and looked to dominate right from the start.
An 18-1 first quarter run gave the team a stranglehold on the encounter and Tel Aviv never lost its composure after that, remaining comfortably in front for the remainder of the game to clinch the crucial victory.
Maccabi hosts Game 3 on Thursday and will be confident once more of claiming a home victory and moving to within one win of the Final Four.
"We wanted to come out tonight and make a statement," said Maccabi guard Marcus Brown, who scored 17 points.
"We wanted to play well and play together to show our power and show what we're about."
Lior Eliyahu scored 20 points for Maccabi, while Carlos Arroyo and D'or Fischer added 13 and 12 points, respectively, which hit 28 of 41 shots from two-point range.
"This was an important road game and I decided to play those who have been in such situations in the past," Maccabi coach Pini Gershon said. "The fact we passed 22 assists shows the team played as a unit, and the fact Ashkelon scored 25 points in the first half proves we defended well."
C.J. Bruton and Rashon Turner each scored 12 points for Ashkelon, which will need to improve on its 17 turnovers at Nokia on Thursday if it has any intention of surprising Maccabi once again.
"This is a series, not just one game, and we need to learn from this contest," Ashkelon coach Robi Balinko said. "We will have to be better prepared for Game 3."
Maccabi jumped out to the early lead and did what a top seed is supposed to do to its lowly opponent in the first round of the playoffs.
A 10-0 run capped by Eliyahu's basket gave the team a 15-5 advantage, and Brown's three-pointer with just over two minutes to play increased Maccabi's margin to 17 points (23-6).
Tel Aviv cruised to a 27-13 lead after 10 minutes, with Brown unstoppable in the first quarter, scoring 12 points, just one less than the entire Ashkelon team.
Matters would only continue to deteriorate for Ashkelon in the second frame, with four straight easy Eliyahu points giving the visitors a 22-point advantage (35-13).
Ashkelon was completely helpless against a refocused Maccabi and the series was all but tied by halftime after Tel Aviv took a 49-25 lead into the break, following a Tal Burstein three.
The third and fourth periods were no more than garbage time and Maccabi is once more looking like the favorite for the league title.