Euroleague Basketball: Barcelona tops Maccabi to tie series

Sherf's team must win Game 3 in Tel Aviv next Thursday to advance to Final Four.

Maccabi TA 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Maccabi TA 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Euroleague season will come down to a decisive Game 3 next week at the Nokia Arena after Barcelona claimed an 83-74 victory in Spain to tie the quarterfinals series at 1-1 on Thursday night. A stunning shooting display by Gianluca Basile left Maccabi helpless, with the veteran Italian scoring 34 points, hitting six three-pointers. A superb game by Omri Casspi, who scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and a typical Terence Morris performance (16 points and 11 rebounds), weren't enough to give the visitors the win, and Maccabi will have to record a victory next Thursday to advance to a seventh Final Four in nine years. Points were at a premium at the start of the game, and the hosts were the first to break out of the slump opening a 9-5 lead thanks to Alex Acker's basket. Maccabi soon found its rhythm as a genius Nikola Vujcic pass found Omri Casspi under the basket and the visitors had their first lead of the night (10-9). Casspi scored seven points in the first 10 minutes and his thunderous dunk with four minutes to play in the first quarter maintained Tel Aviv's slender advantage (15-13). Gianluca Basile regained the lead for Barcelona with a three-pointer from a meter behind the arc and the hosts were ahead 23-22 at the end of the first period. An 8-0 run at the start of the second quarter, which was capped by Mario Kasun's dunk, seemed to give Barca a stranglehold on the encounter. Morris, however, brought Maccabi within touching distance once more, scoring two baskets to end a three-minute long scoreless period. The hosts didn't need long to reopen a substantial lead once more, with a three by Pepe Sanchez increasing the margin to nine points (38-29). Maccabi had no intention of allowing Barca to run away with the game by halftime, and five straight points by Will Bynum cut the deficit to two (38-36). Basile, who scored 14 points in the first half, hit a buzzer-beating three to give the Spaniards a 43-37 halftime lead, but Vujcic scored from beyond the arc at the start of the third period to bring Maccabi within one possession once more. However, the next few minutes were dominated by the hosts, with Basile unstoppable from three-point range. The Italian guard scored eight points in the first six minutes of the second half and his second triple of the period extended Barca's advantage to 55-46. Casspi continued his excellent night in the third quarter, but for all his efforts Maccabi couldn't close the host's margin and the Catalans were up by six points (64-58) after Bynum beat the buzzer with a desperation three. Basile scored his sixth three of the night at the start of the fourth period and the hosts were ahead by 13 points (71-58) after Roger Grimau's two free throws. The double-digit margin proved to be too much for Maccabi at such a late stage and Barcelona remained comfortably ahead as the game drew to a close and ended up sailing to the crucial win.