Yogev Ohayon 390.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv moved to within one win of the Euroleague Final Four on Tuesday
night, edging Panathinaikos 65-62 at Nokia Arena to take a 2-1 lead in the
best-of-five series which has already become an instant classic.
being humiliated by the Greeks in Game 1, Maccabi recorded a remarkable overtime
victory to tie the series in Athens and it showed its heart and class once more
on Tuesday to stave off Pao in a nerve-racking finish.
Maccabi also hosts
Game 4 at Nokia on Thursday, knowing a win will see it advance to the Final Four
for the sixth time in the past nine years.
A Panathinaikos win on
Thursday will send the series to a decisive fifth game in Athens.
Ohayon was in inspired form for Maccabi for a second straight game, scoring 12
points and passing six assists in 33 minutes on court.
Devin Smith added
11 points and nine rebounds, but it was an all-around tenacious team display by
Maccabi on Tuesday, with four more players scoring eight points or
Mike Batiste had 13 points for Pao, which is one defeat away from
relinquishing its crown as European champion.
“We have won just one game
tonight and that is the only way we should look at it,” Maccabi coach David
“We weren’t good enough on offense in the second half and
that almost cost us.
We will have to play better to win the game on
A Keith Langford basket opened an early 5-0 Maccabi lead, but
the visitors soon leveled the score and a tense encounter seemed to be on the
However, after being battered on the defensive end in the first
two games of the series, Maccabi refused to allow Pao to dictate the tempo on
Tuesday, holding the Greeks to just five points in the first seven minutes of
A circus shot by Ohayon with 3:25 to play in the first quarter
took Tel Aviv’s gap to double-digits (16-5) and Tal Burstein’s three-pointer to
cap the period made it 24-13.
Maccabi faced its first real test of the
night after a quick 7-0 Pao run cut the margin to just six points
It passed it with flying colors, led by the tremendous
The Israeli guard was worried at the start of the season that he
would be relegated to the outskirts of the Maccabi bench, but he continued to
solidify his place as a star of the team for many years to come on Tuesday, with
his layup taking Tel Aviv back into a doublefigure comfort zone
A Lior Eliyahu basket took the lead to 15 points (41-26) and
Maccabi had a 13- point cushion (41-28) at the break.
always remained within striking distance, closing to within five (46-41) with
3:25 to play in the third and trailing by just six (50-44) with one quarter
A Batiste dunk early in the fourth cut the gap to just four
and a Dimitris Diamantidis three with 6:15 left in the game brought the visitors
within one possession (56-53) for the first time since early in the first
Stratos Perperoglou’s basket with 2:14 to go made it a one-point
game (61-60), with a Diamantidis tally ensuring there was still just a single
point to separate the sides (63-62) with 35 seconds to go.
The final play
Blatt drew up for Maccabi never came to fruition, but Hendrix somehow got a hand
on the rebound from Langford’s missed shot and the hosts were ahead by three yet
Pao still had a chance to tie the game, but Maccabi didn’t allow
clutch master Diamantidis to take the shot from beyond the arc and 11,000 fans
erupted in joy after Nick Calathes missed at the buzzer.