Euroleague Top-16: Tau throttles Maccabi Tel Aviv

Maccabi falls behind early in the game and Tau cruises to victory practically undisturbed.

mac TA 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
mac TA 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The massive gap between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Europe's top clubs was clearer than ever on Wednesday night after Maccabi was outplayed in Spain by Tau Vitoria, losing 94-73 in its fourth Group D game of the Euroleague Top 16. Maccabi fell behind early in the game and Tau cruised to victory practically undisturbed. Tel Aviv turned the ball over a shocking 21 times, and its struggles weren't limited to the offensive end. Maccabi's defense was breached at will by Vitoria, with Tau scoring 60% of their two-point shots. Tel Aviv was led by Lior Eliyahu, who scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Tal Burstein added 11 points. Luis Scola led all scorers with 25 points and was helped under the baskets by Tiago Splitter, who added 16 points and six rebounds. Fred House got Tau on the board with a three-pointer at the start of the game, giving Vitoria a lead it would hold for all 40 minutes. Eliyahu was the only Maccabi player who managed to penetrate Tau's defense, and he scored Tel Aviv's first eight points. However, Scola answered every Eliyahu basket at the other end of the court. The Argentinian forward also scored the eight points he needed to become the Euroleague all-time leading scorer after just five minutes. He then gave Tau a 15-8 lead with another basket. Maccabi had no answer to the Spanish club's elegant offensive play, and Tau extended its lead as the first quarter progressed. House gave Tau its first double-digit lead (23-13) with another three, and Zoran Planinic's basket at the end of the period made the score 25-15. Not only did Maccabi struggle on defense, it also failed to cope with Tau's pressure and turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter. Five-straight points by Planinic at the start of the second period widened the margin, and Scola's basket midway through the quarter gave Tau a 38-17 lead. An 8-0 run by Maccabi, capped by a Burstein jumper, helped Tel Aviv temporarily regain some of its pride, but Vitoria had no intention of letting Maccabi back into the game. Scola's basket with a minute remaining in the half put Tau ahead 48-29 and Tel Aviv trailed at the break 50-33. Scola opened the second half the same way he ended the first. Maccabi's 7-0 run at the beginning of the third quarter closed the gap to 52-40, but Tel Aviv couldn't come any closer. Pablo Prigioni's basket from beyond the arc with four minutes remaining in the period kept Tau 15 points in front (60-45). Ender Arslan extended the margin to 19 points with his basket in the final minute of the quarter. Burstein answered with a buzzer-beating three to cut the deficit to 70-54. Vitoria poured salt on Tel Aviv's wounded pride in the first few minutes of the fourth period, as Arslan's three midway through the quarter gave his team an 80-59 advantage. After Maccabi managed to cut slightly into Tau's lead towards the end of the game, the hosts responded and the final margin was 21 points.