SOFOKLIS SCHORTSANITIS of Maccabi Tel Aviv 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv consolidated its position atop Euroleague Group C on Thursday
night, improving to a 4-1 record with a tougher-than-expected 69-59 victory over
Spirou Charleroi at Nokia Arena.
After two strong performances over Real
Madrid and Efes Istanbul, Maccabi was far from impressive on Thursday night and
entered the fourth quarter down by four points (54-50).
However, Tel Aviv
held the Belgians to just five points in the final 10 minutes to clinch its
fourth straight Euroleague win, keeping the yellow-and-blue in sole possession
of first place in its group at the midway point of the regular
Lior Eliyahu led Maccabi with 15 points, with David Blu scoring
12 for Tel Aviv, which won despite shooting only 23 percent (5 of 21) from
three-point range and committing 17 turnovers.
Demond Mallet and Chris
Hill had 18 and 15 points, respectively, for Charleroi.
While a lightning
storm was raging outside the arena, Maccabi was looking to get off to a
thunderous start against the Belgians, but Mallet was keeping the visitors in
the game almost single-handedly, scoring seven of his team’s first nine
However, despite not using the ill Sofoklis Schortsanitis and
Devin Smith until late in the first half, Maccabi surged ahead with an 11-0 run
that included two three-pointers from Blu, who was doubtful for the game after
spending much of the day in the hospital with his pregnant
Everything seemed to be in place for Maccabi to put the game to
rest by the break, but Charleroi mounted a surprising fight back in the second
quarter, erasing Tel Aviv’s 11-point first-period lead (22-11) and moving in
front midway through the frame.
Hill suddenly caught fire, with eight
quick points cutting the gap to just one before Christophe Beghin gave Charleroi
the lead (27-26).
Tel Aviv immediately regained the advantage with five
straight points, but Hill’s basket at the buzzer sent the teams into the
dressing rooms tied at 35-35.
Jordan Farmar’s first points of the night
gave Tel Aviv a 42-37 advantage, but Charleroi kept the hosts at bay with strong
interior defense while Maccabi was missing numerous open shots from
The Belgians ended the third quarter with a 9-0 run, with
Hill’s three at the buzzer giving Charleroi a 54-50 gap with 10 minutes to
However, it would take the Belgians more than five minutes to put
another point on the board, with Maccabi beginning the final quarter on a 10-0
Tel Aviv was still missing far too many easy shots, but its
dominance on the defensive end allowed it to pull ahead nevertheless, with
Smith’s dunk with five minutes remaining opening a 60-54 margin Maccabi just
about held on to for a nervy win.