(photo credit: Associated Press)
Maccabi Tel Aviv strengthened its position atop Euroleague Group A on Thursday
night, thrashing Prokom Gdynia 99-58 at the Nokia Arena to improve its record to
4-1 on the season.
After last week’s drama in Russia in which Maccabi
only clinched the win thanks to a last-second David Blu three-pointer, the
yellowand- blue cruised almost effortlessly to victory on Thursday, opening a
17-point margin (48-31) by halftime and piling the misery on the winless Poles
in the second half.
As always this season, it was Tel Aviv’s defense
which gave it the victory, with the hosts recording 13 steals and forcing Prokom
into 20 turnovers.
Maccabi was also superb offensively on Thursday,
scoring 15 three-pointers and dishing 21 assists.
Chuck Eidson led
Maccabi with 20 points and five steals. Doron Perkins and Guy Pnini added 13
points each, with Jeremy Pargo scoring 12.
“The team played really well,”
Eidson said. “We were excellent both offensively and defensively and it was a
J.R. Giddins and Daniel Ewing had 14 points each for Prokom,
which fell to 0-5.
Next up for Maccabi is a home encounter against Caja
Laboral Vitoria. Tel Aviv will be out for revenge, with the Spaniards handing
Maccabi its only defeat to date in the regular season, humbling the
yellow-and-blue in Vitoria.
Prokom actually got off to the better start
on Thursday, opening a 7-1 lead after a Ratko Varda basket.
wouldn’t be long until the hosts found their groove, hitting their shots from
beyond the arc and forcing the Poles to commit turnovers time and time
Maccabi implemented a full-court press at one stage and the
visitors struggled to even cross halfcourt on multiple possessions.
Aviv scored just twice from two-point range in the first 10 minutes, but hit six
threes, and a 15-2 run gave it a 19-12 lead.
David Blatt’s men extended
the gap to double-figures by the end of the first frame, with a Tal Burstein
dunk following a Jeremy Pargo steal capping another superb first quarter by the
yellow-andblue, giving the hosts a 29-19 margin.
Gdynia scored the first
four points of the second period to close within two possessions, but the Poles
never really looked capable of mounting a serious comeback and Tel Aviv
continued to increase its lead until the break.
A Perkins three put
Maccabi ahead by 15 (41-26) and the hosts were cruising at halftime, leading
After scoring only 12 points in the second period and committing
16 turnovers in the half – 10 of them down to Maccabi steals – Prokom knew it
would have to get the second half off to a flying start to have any chance of
closing on the hosts.
However, the seven-time defending Polish champion
took almost five minutes to even score its first points of the third quarter,
and by that stage the game was already as good as over.
run to open the second half, capped by a Pargo lay-up, opened an unassailable
60-31 gap, rendering the final 15 minutes almost meaningless.
managed to cut the margin to 70-47 by the end of the third period, but that was
of little consolation for the visitors as Maccabi cruised to a ridiculously easy
victory in the final frame.