Euroleague: Maccabi downed by resurgent Olympiacos

Another fourth quarter collapse sees Tel Aviv lose 87-82 at the Nokia Arena, severely damaging its hopes of reaching the Final Four.

maccabi dejected 224.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger )
maccabi dejected 224.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger )
Maccabi Tel Aviv's hopes of reaching the Euroleague Final Four suffered a big blow on Thursday after another fourth quarter collapse saw the team lose 87-82 to Olympiacos at the Nokia Arena. Maccabi entered the final 10 minutes of the game with a 10-point margin, but a 26-11 fourth period by the Greeks turned the game on its head and complicated Tel Aviv's situation in Group F. Just this Sunday Maccabi squandered a late lead in the BSL to Bnei Hasharon, losing the final quarter by 13 points, and it was only a month ago that the team suffered the most dramatic of collapses against Hapoel Jerusalem in the State Cup final. The yellow-and-blue, which face Real Madrid on the road next week, almost have no chance of finishing first in the group and securing home court advantage in the quarterfinal playoff after Thursday's loss and now also face a tough battle for second place in the group. David Bluthenthal scored 19 points for Maccabi, with Terence Morris adding 15 points and 10 rebounds. Lynn Greer scored 27 points for the visitors, with Marc Jackson contributing 15 points. Olympiakos got off to the brighter start and led 7-1 after Greer's three-pointer. Bluthenthal caught fire soon afterwards and his two consecutive threes gave the hosts an advantage (9-7) they wouldn't relinquish until the last two minutes of the encounter. An Esteban Batista basket capped Tel Aviv's 10-0 run (11-7) and Morris's basket from beyond the arc with two minutes to play in the first period opened the side's biggest margin of the quarter (23-16). The visitors cut the deficit to four points (25-21) by the end of the first period, but Maccabi surged ahead at the start of the second quarter, with Nikola Vujcic, who was introduced as a substitute not long before, playing a key role in the team's break. The Croatian scored the first points of the quarter and five straight Will Bynum points increased the margin to 32-23. A Morris basket with four minutes to play in the first half opened a 12-point gap (43-31), but an 11-2 Greek run, which was capped by a Kostas Vasiliadis triple, brought the visitors right back into contention (45-42). A Vonteego Cummings three with just under seven seconds remaining in the half made sure Maccabi had some kind of cushion ahead of the second half (50-44) and remarkable shooting by Bluthenthal saw the host's advantage mushroom dramatically at the beginning of the third quarter. The American hit three triples in quick succession, giving Tel Aviv a 59-46 lead and an ideal start to the second half. Olympiacos managed to narrow the gap briefly midway through the period, but a Morris jumper with three minutes to go in the quarter put the hosts ahead by 14 points (67-53). Roderick Blakney's three brought the visitors within 10 points (71-61) with 10 minutes to play and Marc Jackson's free throws at the start of the fourth quarter cut the gap by two more points. Maccabi struggled to find its range in the final period and three-pointers by Ioannis Bourousis and Panagiotis Vasilopoulos blew the game wide open (73-69). Three more Vasilopoulos points tied the score (75-75) and Georgios Printezis's basket gave Olympiacos its first lead (77-76) since the very start of the game. A Printezis triple with just over one-and-a-half minutes to play opened a three-point margin (80-77), but Morris answered back with a three of his own and the score was tied at 82-82 with 56 seconds to play. That basket would prove to be Maccabi's last of the night as Greer scored five free-throws in the last minute of the game to give the Greeks a huge win in Tel Aviv.