Gallant effort by Mac TA comes up short

Yellow-and-blue can’t complete rally, falling 76-72 at Siena in thrilling Top 16 opener.

Maccabi Tel Aviv 311 (photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Tel Aviv 311
(photo credit: AP)
A valiant effort by Maccabi Tel Aviv could not prevent the team falling to a 76-72 defeat at Montepaschi Siena in its Euroleague Top 16 opener on Thursday night.
Maccabi scored just 26 points in the first half, but trailed by only seven points at the break and very nearly staged a dramatic comeback in the last five minutes. Pini Gershon’s team remained close to the Italian champion for the entire second half, but could never take the lead and came up just short in the final seconds.
Alan Anderson was superb for Maccabi, scoring 26 points and hitting five of eight shots from beyond the arc. Doron Perkins added 11 points for Maccabi, which hosts Real Madrid next week.
However, Chuck Eidson (7 points) and Andrew Wisniewski (2) combined for just nine points, and Tel Aviv ended perhaps its best game of the season with nothing to show for it.
David Hawkins led Siena with 17 points, with Henry Domercant scoring 16.
Maccabi began well defensively, but couldn’t convert on the other end and Siena soon seized the initiative. The hosts may have only managed 10 points in the first six minutes of the game, but Tel Aviv scored four less.
Siena ended the first quarter with a 17-12 lead and completely suffocated Maccabi’s offense at the start of the second period. Tel Aviv turned the ball over time and again and failed to even register a shot in many possessions.
Nikos Zisis capped a 9-0 run to give Montepaschi a 23-12 margin, with a Hawkins three-pointer extending the gap to 12 points (28-16).
Despite struggling desperately on offense, Maccabi was still in the game at the break thanks to Siena’s poor shooting.
The Italian champion scored 44.5 percent of its shots from beyond the arc in 10 regular season games, but in the first half on Thursday Siena hit just one of 10 attempts and Tel Aviv trailed by just seven points at halftime (33-26).
Maccabi finally began to find its range in the third quarter, and with the hosts still failing to hit free shots, the visitors closed to within touching distance.
Perkins and Yaniv Green played a crucial role off the bench, with a Perkins triple bringing Tel Aviv within two points (47-45) with just under three minutes to play in the quarter.
Siena took a 54-49 advantage into the fourth period and scored the first four points of the quarter to open a significant lead once more. However, Anderson was on fire and two straight threes, both with a hand in his face, brought Maccabi within one possession (58-55).
Momentum seemed to be on Tel Aviv’s side, but Henry Domercant scored a quick five points, with his seventh point of the quarter opening a double-digit margin (65-55).
Another triple by Anderson cut the gap to six points (69-63) with just over three minutes remaining and a David Bluthenthal three with 37 seconds to go brought the team to within a mere two points (70-68). However, the hosts were accurate from the free-throw line and Tel Aviv missed a golden opportunity to claim a road victory.