Euroleague Basketball: Real completes sweep in Tel Aviv

Maccabi Tel Aviv loses any realistic hope of qualifying for the Euroleague quarterfinals.

Maccabi Tel Aviv Real Madrid 248.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger )
Maccabi Tel Aviv Real Madrid 248.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger )
Maccabi Tel Aviv lost any realistic hope of qualifying for the Euroleague quarterfinals on Thursday night, losing 73-69 to Real Madrid at the Nokia Arena. Maccabi still has a miniscule chance of advancing should it win next week at Alba Berlin and, in two weeks time, thrash Barcelona by more than 20 points. However, it would also need Barcelona to lose at home to Real next week, and considering Tel Aviv's form this season, it seems highly likely that Maccabi is facing its earliest Euroleague exit in six years. Maccabi scored the first points of the night on Thursday, but that proved to be the team's only lead of the game, with Real scoring the next 12 and leading throughout the remainder. Carlos Arroyo scored 26 points for Maccabi, with Omri Casspi and D'or Fischer the side's only other players in double-figures, scoring 15 and 13 points, respectively. Raul Lopez scored 17 for Real, which improved to 4-0 in Top 16 action and secured its place in the quarterfinals. Fischer scored the first basket of the game, but Maccabi went scoreless in the next four minutes and Madrid surged into a dominant position. Tel Aviv was helpless on defense and an Alex Mumbru three less than four minutes into the game opened a 12-2 lead. Fischer's, and Maccabi's, seventh point closed the gap slightly (12-7), but without stopping the visitors on offense, Tel Aviv had no chance of coming significantly closer, and the quarter ended in a 26-17 Real lead. Matters continued to deteriorate for the hosts in the second quarter, with Lopez finding his range and a Felipe Reyes basket increasing the gap to a record 16 points (39-23). Arroyo single-handedly kept Maccabi in contention, but the side couldn't get closer than eight points and Madrid was still comfortably ahead at the interval (46-35). Real remained in control in the start of the third, maintaining a double-digit margin, however, the visitors only scored one point in the final six minutes of the quarter and Maccabi edged ever closer. A Lior Eliyahu steal followed by a dunk with under three to play in the period brought Tel Aviv within six (55-49), and the hosts only trailed by five (56-51) with 10 minutes to play after two more Eliyahu points. Maccabi trailed by just three after beginning the period with a Marcus Brown basket and an Arroyo lay-up kept the hosts within one possession (64-61). However, Real raised its play when it counted most and extended its gap to eight (71-63) with three-and-a-half minutes to go, thanks to a Louis Bullock three. Tel Aviv still managed to come within two with just over a minute to play after two Eliyahu free-throws, but that proved to be as close as Maccabi would get, and Real claimed the win and booked its place in the last eight. Earlier in the evening a team of Maccabi legends faced their Real counterparts in a game in memory of Ralph Klein, who died last year. Maccabi won 98-94, with Oded Katash scoring 25 points and Miki Berkowitz 18 points.