Euroleague: Maccabi Tel Aviv cruises into quarters

Gershon's team scores record 43 fourth-quarter points in victory over Siena.

Mac TA's Doron Perkins 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Mac TA's Doron Perkins 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
An extraordinary fourth-quarter explosion gave Maccabi Tel Aviv a 97-82 victory over Montepaschi Siena on Thursday night, booking the team's place in the Euroleague quarterfinals.
Maccabi scored a Euroleague record 43 points in the final 10 minutes, turning a three-point deficit into a massive victory.
"We played at our very best in the fourth period," Maccabi coach Pini Gershon said. "The players excelled in the money time and did all the right things to win the game by the margin we needed."
The final score-line fails to tell the story of the game. The tight encounter went back and forth until the final minute when Maccabi surged ahead to clinch the win it needed to claim the tiebreaker over Siena, which beat Tel Aviv by just four points in Italy.
Next week, Maccabi visits Real Madrid in a battle for first position in Group F. The game in Madrid is especially important as it will not only decide which of the sides will have home-court advantage in the best-of-five quarterfinal series, but also which will avoid facing the menacing Barcelona, which is 15-1 in the Euroleague this season.   
Alan Anderson led Maccabi once more on Thursday night, scoring 24 points, 15 of them in the fourth quarter.   
"Anything can happen when we play 40 minutes and now we need to get ready for next Thursday," Anderson said.
Chuck Eidson scored 16 points, with Doron Perkins (14), David Bluthenthal (13), Andrew Wisniewski (11) and Stephane Lasme (11) all reaching double-figures.
Henry Domercant had 21 points for Siena, which hit just seven of 23 shots from beyond the arc.
Eidson scored the first points of the night, and from the very beginning it was clear that win or lose, Maccabi would leave everything on the floor.
Tel Aviv tried to pressure Siena, and at first it was working, with an Eidson dunk opening a five-point margin (13-8)
However, the Italians didn’t take long to work out Gershon's defensive tactics and the visitors led 21-19 at the end of the first period after a Domercant three-pointer.
Siena continued to frustrate the host at the start of the second quarter, but after failing to hit a single three in the first 10 minutes, Maccabi began to find its range as the game progressed, and pulled ahead.
A Bluthenthal triple midway through the second quarter opened a 32-26 advantage and Tel Aviv extended the margin to double-digits (41-31) following a Lasme three-point play and an Eidson free throw.
The capacity crowd at the Nokia Arena was going crazy, but Siena soon silenced them, cutting the deficit and entering the break down by six points (43-37).
Tel Aviv scored the first basket of the second half to increase its lead to eight points, but Siena would tighten its defense and went on an 18-4 run in the next seven minutes.
A Shuan Stonerook tip-in midway through the third quarter tied the score (47-47) and Terrell Mcintye's lay-up with just over two minutes remaining in the frame gave the Italians a six-point gap (55-49), their biggest of the game.
A Perkins three at the other end cut the margin immediately, and Maccabi entered the final 10 minutes down by three points (57-54).
Slowly but surely, Tel Aviv was eating away at the lead, and Anderson's basket from beyond the arc tied the score at 63-63.
Domercant hit a three at the other end in Montepaschi's next possession, but with Anderson catching fire it was only a matter of time until the hosts would regain the lead.
A Bluthenthal three followed by an Anderson dunk gave Maccabi a 72-70advantage with five minutes to play, and the hosts led by five points(83-78) after D'or Fischer finished off an alley-oop with 90 seconds onthe clock.
Siena was losing its cool, and its misses from thefree-throw line allowed Tel Aviv to open the margin it required toclaim the tiebreaker over the Italians.
A Bluthenthal threeafter a well-worked team move gave the hosts an 88-80 advantage, andMaccabi never looked back on its way to a superb victory.