Euroleague Basketball: Revitalized Maccabi TA holds off Roma

Euroleague Basketball R

maccabi tel aviv 248.88 (photo credit: MK Productions)
maccabi tel aviv 248.88
(photo credit: MK Productions)
Maccabi Tel Aviv remained in the hunt for a top-two finish in Euroleague Group C on Thursday night after claiming a hard-fought 79-59 victory over Lottomatica Roma at the Nokia Arena. Tel Aviv was far from impressive after two-straight Euro defeats, but a few minutes of defensive intensity against a mediocre opponent were enough for the Israelis to claim what was eventually a comfortable win. The final margin of victory was quite deceiving, with Tel Aviv failing to break Roma's resistance for the first 25 minutes of the encounter. The score was tied at 45-45 five minutes into the second half, but the Italians scored just 14 points in the remainder of the game and Maccabi will be looking to end the group stage with a win when it visits Maroussi BC in Greece next week. Chuck Eidson led Maccabi with 23 points, with David Bluthenthal's the team's only other player to score in double-figures, contributing 15 points. "We didn't play well in the first half, but at halftime we talked about making some adjustments and that won us the game," Eidson said. Ricky Minard scored 14 points for Roma, which made just 17 percent (4 of 23) of its shots from beyond the arc and committed 23 turnovers. Maccabi seemed eager to be back from the three-week New Year break at the start and a surprise contribution from Raviv Limonad helped the team to a first quarter lead. The Israeli guard was given a rare start by coach Pini Gershon and responded with eight points in the first 10 minutes, with his second three-pointer of the game opening a 22-15 lead. However, the Italians were trailing by just two points at the end of the period, with Andre Hutson dominating under the baskets and scoring the final two points of the quarter to bring Roma within one possession (22-20). Hutson continued to torment D'or Fischer and Stephane Lasme in the second quarter and his 10th point of the night three minutes into the period opened a 26-22 Roma lead. Maccabi came right back with a 60 run, capped by Eidson, who scored 15 points in the first half, but the score was tied at 35-35 at the break. Alan Anderson opened the second half with five straight points, but Roma was never too far behind and the score was still tied (45-45) midway through the third period. Despite continuing to struggle offensively in the remainder of the quarter, Maccabi managed to open a relatively comfortable gap by the end of the period thanks to its defense. Tel Aviv held Roma to just three points in the final eight minutes of the quarter, and Guy Pnini's second three of the period gave the hosts a 56-48 advantage with 10 minutes to play. Roma continued to struggle at the start of the fourth quarter and the hosts all but clinched the win by the midway point of the period. A David Bluthenthal triple followed by a Doron Perkins lay-up extended Maccabi's lead to 64-51 and the remainder of the game was no more than garbage time. Bluthenthal said it was the team's "ability to stay calm" which won it the game. "We made some big shots in the fourth quarter and opened up a big lead," he said.