Just what the doctor ordered: Mac TA rolls

Yellow-and-blue bowls over Besiktas with balanced attack, starting to turn the corner.

Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Ricky Hickman 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Ricky Hickman 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv breathed new life into its Euroleague Top 16 campaign on Thursday night, thrashing Besiktas JK 77- 55 in Istanbul to improve to 2- 4 in Group F.
Maccabi entered the game still reeling from last week’s heartbreaking home defeat to Olympiacos, but it showed no lasting effects in Turkey, cruising to a much-needed confidence- boosting victory against the group’s weakest side.
Despite the win, Maccabi has still got plenty more ground to make up if it intends to finish among the top four in the group and advance to the quarterfinals.
The yellow-and-blue can take a significant step in that direction with a win against Spanish powerhouse Barcelona at Nokia Arena in its next Euroleague game in two weeks time.
Lior Eliyahu led Maccabi with 14 points, while Nik Caner-Medley scored 12 for the yellow-andblue, which finally found its range from beyond the arc, hitting 9-of-16 three-pointers.
“We set the tone with our defensive play in the first half and seized control of the game and won it quite easily,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt.
“Besiktas may not be the best team in Europe, but we still have some hope in this group.
“The game against Barcelona will determine how far we’ll go in the Euroleague this season.”
Serhat Cetin had 13 points for Besiktas, which shot 19 percent (5-of-26) from three-point range to drop to 0-6 in Group F.
Caner-Medley scored Maccabi’s first six points of the night to give the visitors a lead (6-4) they wouldn’t relinquish.
A Shawn James dunk capped a 10-0 run (10-4) and Maccabi was in complete control after the first period, with David Logan’s buzzer-beater opening a 21-12 gap.
Besiktas had no answer to Maccabi’s suffocating defense and Logan gave the yellowand- blue a 12-point cushion (24-12) with two more points on the fast-break.
It took the Turks more than seven second quarter minutes to add to their tally and by that stage the contest was as good as over.
Eliyahu, Sylven Landesberg and Devin Smith all got in on the act, with a Smith freethrow taking the margin to 25 points (37-12), completing a 16-0 surge to start the quarter.
A thunderous Landesberg dunk to end the period capped Maccabi’s sensational first half, opening a 21-point lead (43-22) from which Besiktas never threatened to come back.
Maccabi returns to Israel on Friday and will immediately begin its preparations for Sunday’s State Cup quarterfinal against Hapoel Holon at Nokia Arena.
The first two quarterfinals will be played on Saturday, with Hapoel Jerusalem hosting Hapoel Eilat at Malha Arena and Maccabi Haifa visiting Bnei Herzliya.
Jerusalem crashed to a 17- point BSL defeat to Maccabi Ashdod on Monday, while Eilat climbed up to second place in the standings with a 79-66 victory over Hapoel Gilboa/Galil, its third win in four games.
However, Eilat will be without star swingman Scotty Hopson on Saturday after he broke a finger during training this week.
Jerusalem and Eilat also met at Malha just over a month ago, with the hosts winning 85-79.
Jerusalem’s Elishay Kadir hasn’t played since that league win over Eilat due to a knee injury, but he should be fit for Saturday.
After a promising start to the season, Haifa has lost three of its past four contests, while Bnei Herzliya has been one of the hottest teams in the league over the past couple of months, winning five of its past seven games.
Also Sunday, Maccabi Be’er Ya’akov, the only remaining National League representative, hosts Ashdod.