Hickman lifts Maccabi Tel Aviv in the clutch

Lay-up with four seconds to play gives the blue-and-yellow its second Group B win in the Euroleague.

Macabbi Tel Aviv's Ricky Hickman (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Macabbi Tel Aviv's Ricky Hickman
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv improved to 2-0 in Euroleague Group B in dramatic fashion on Thursday night, snatching a 70- 68 victory over Montepaschi Siena at Nokia Arena thanks to Ricky Hickman’s basket with four seconds to play.
Maccabi failed to repeat its impressive showing from last week’s road win over Unicaja Malaga, but outscored Siena 8- 0 in the final two minutes to win its Euroleague home opener for a 14th straight season.
Hickman led the yellow-and-blue with 19 points, with Malcolm Thomas adding 14 points and 11 rebounds and Lior Eliyahu contributing 11 points and 11 boards for Maccabi, which shot just 19 percent (4 of 21) from three-point range.
Marcelus Kemp had 16 points for Siena, which led for most of the game, but ended up falling to its second straight continental defeat.
Maccabi’s lax defending allowed Siena to catch the hosts on the fast break time and again in the first half and the Italians opened an early lead they would maintain until the break.
Kristjan Kangur’s lay-up with 1:46 to play in the first period took Siena’s gap to seven points (17-10) and Bobby Brown’s buzzer-beating basket from beyond midcourt ensured the visitors had a deserved 20-14 margin after 10 minutes.
Matters could have been far worse for the hosts had Siena not missed so many easy opportunities, with Maccabi badly misfiring on offense.
Mario Kasun’s basket took Siena’s lead to a game-high nine points (29-20) midway through the second quarter, but Tel Aviv scored the final six points of the half and was surely delighted to find itself just two points down (33-31) at halftime after shooting a shocking 30.8 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes.
Siena remained ahead for the first five minutes of the second half, but a Hickman and Devin Smith inspired run saw Maccabi finally move into the lead (45- 43) with 4:25 to play in the quarter thanks to Hickman’s three-point play.
A stunning Thomas dunk and a Guy Pnini basket to end the period gave the hosts a one-point edge (53-52) ahead of the final 10 minutes and the lead would exchange hands numerous times in the fourth frame.
A rare Hickman three gave Maccabi a 62-60 advantage midway through the quarter, but it took the yellow-and-blue more than three minutes to score its next points and Siena had a six-point gap (68-62) with two minutes to play after hitting four-straight free throws.
However, Maccabi would score the next eight points, tying the score at 68- 68 after a Hickman steal and free throws with 37 seconds remaining, and the American guard hit the winning basket with four seconds to play to clinch a scrappy win for the yellowand- blue.