Mac TA moves to brink of clinching group

Yellow-and-blue thrashes Gdynia in Poland thanks to fourth quarter surge.

Mac TA's Ricky Hickman 390 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Mac TA's Ricky Hickman 390
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv edged ever closer to clinching first place in Euroleague Group B on Thursday night, steamrolling Prokom Gdynia in the fourth quarter on the way to an 89-73 victory in Poland.
Maccabi trailed throughout much of the first three periods and entered the final frame down by five points (65-60).
However, it got its act together against the group’s weakest team in the final 10 minutes, outscoring the Poles 29-8 to improve to 7-2.
The yellow-and-blue hosts Alba Berlin in its final regular season game next Thursday, with a victory to ensure it advances to the Top 16 as a group winner.
Ricky Hickman led five Maccabi players in double figures with 20 points in Poland, with Lior Eliyahu, who captained the side for the first time in place of the disgraced Guy Pnini, scoring 16 points.
Maccabi suspended Pnini until further notice, stripped him of the captaincy and also fined him NIS 100,000 after he was caught calling Hapoel Tel Aviv player Jonathan Skjoldebrand a Nazi, among other profanities, during Sunday’s derby.
Yogev Ohayon added 14 points, four assists and four rebounds, with Rasid Mahalbasic scoring 14 for Gdynia, which fell to 1-8.
Maccabi entered Thursday’s encounter 5-0 all-time against Gdynia, winning by an average margin of 26.4 points.
However, any illusion it may have had that Prokom would willingly hand it the win was shattered in the first quarter, with the Poles taking a 16-12 lead after an 8-0 run.
Maccabi scored just four field goals in the first 10 minutes, while committing seven turnovers, and entered the second frame down by four points (19-15).
Gdynia extended its margin to double-digits (38-28) with just over three minutes remaining in the first half thanks to a Ryan Richards basket and the hosts were still in control at the break, leading 42-35.
Maccabi kept chipping away at the gap, but whenever it got to within striking distance, Prokom surged ahead and the hosts took a 65-60 advantage into the final quarter.
However, Tel Aviv dominated the fourth frame, beginning it with a 19-2 run which effectively clinched the win.
David Logan finally found his range and Shawn James did as he pleased under the baskets, giving the yellow-and-blue a 79-67 margin from which Gdynia was never going to return with an unchallenged dunk.