Euroleague Basketball: Vitoria defeats Maccabi once again

Euroleague Basketball V

pini gershon oh no 248 88 (photo credit: )
pini gershon oh no 248 88
(photo credit: )
After a promising start to the Euroleague season, Maccabi Tel Aviv was brought down to earth in painful fashion on Thursday night, losing 91-82 to Caja Laboral Vitoria at the Nokia Arena. Maccabi's only loss of the season until Thursday came in Vitoria at the end of October, and the Spaniards exposed all of Tel Aviv's flaws once more at Nokia. Pini Gershon's men got the better of the minnows of the group with mediocre displays, but Maccabi has yet to prove it can defeat a quality Euroleague team, even one without four injured players, on a consistent basis. Tel Aviv showed once again that its offense is too dependent on its opponents committing turnovers, with Vitoria only turning the ball over 10 times during the game, limiting Maccabi's opportunities to score easy points. Tel Aviv's perimeter defense was also disappointing, to say the least, with the visitors hitting 16 of 31 from beyond the arc. Chuck Eidson led Maccabi with 19 points and seven rebounds, with Guy Pnini coming off the bench to score 18 points. Alan Anderson continued to struggle, hitting just one of 11 field goal attempts, scoring seven points. Mirza Teletovic was outstanding for Vitoria, scoring 28 points, hitting eight of 14 from three-point range. Carl English added 18 points, with Lior Eliyahu, who was welcomed with a mixture of cheers and jeers, scoring 11 points in his triumphant return to Nokia after leaving Tel Aviv for Vitoria in the summer. Maccabi looked to run with every opportunity at the start of the game, but the hosts struggled to put the ball in the hoop. Vitoria suffered on the offensive end just the same, but thanks to accurate three-point shooting held a slender lead. An English triple, Vitoria's fourth of the night, gave the visitors a 12-8 advantage, but it wasn't long before Tel Aviv tied the score once more. Eliyahu entered the game midway through the period and his three point move to end the first quarter ensured Vitoria was in front 20-18 after 10 minutes. Maccabi was desperately searching for an answer to its scoring slump, but had little success and a Pau Ribas jumper with 3:15 remaining in the first half extended the Spaniards gap to as many as 12 points (40-28). Vitoria maintained its lead until the break (43-34), but the hosts began the second half with five straight points to move within striking distance. After scoring just two threes in the first half, Maccabi hit four triples in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the third period, two by Eidson and two by Guy Pnini, and closed to within a single point (49-48). Stephane Lasme's free throws completed the comeback and gave Tel Aviv its first lead since the first quarter. However, Vitoria struck right back, with another Teletovic three capping an 8-0 run which opened a 57-50 advantage. The Bosnian forward continued to score at will from beyond the arc in the subsequent minutes, with his third triple of the period with 58 seconds remaining in the quarter opening a promising margin once more (65-54). Vitoria still led by double-digits at the start of the fourth quarter (67-57) and after Maccabi remained stuck on 60 points for nearly three minutes, a Fernando San Emeterio's triple gave the visitors a comfortable 75-60 margin. Facing defeat, Tel Aviv finally found its range, and a 9-0 run, capped by Eidson's three cut the gap to 75-69 with 4:29 to go. However, Maccabi could not build on its momentum, with Vitoria dominating the subsequent minutes and clinching the win after another Teletovic three opened an 85-75 lead from which Tel Aviv could not return.