Mac TA remains on fire with another win

Sofo’s 22 points lead yellow-and-blue to a double-digit victory over Kuban to improve to 2-0 in the Top 16.

Maccabi Tel Aviv center Sofoklis Schortsanitis. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv center Sofoklis Schortsanitis.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
After being ruled out for up to two weeks due to an ankle sprain just a day earlier, Sofoklis Schortsanitis scored 22 points in 15 minutes on Thursday night to lead Maccabi Tel Aviv to an 85-75 victory over Lokomotiv Kuban at Nokia Arena.
The Greek center was supposed to be out for between 10 and 14 days, but recovered unexpectedly quickly and scored 9-of-11 field-goal attempts before hobbling off the floor at the final buzzer.
After reaching 85 points just once in its 10 Euroleague regular season games, Maccabi hit the mark for a second straight week on Thursday.
The yellow-and-blue hit 25-of-40 shots from two-point range, 9-of-27 three-pointers while registering 25 assists.
Devin Smith provided another superb performance at both ends of the floor, recording 15 points and 12 rebounds, with Tyrese Rice finishing with 12 points. Maccabi recorded its 11th straight win in all competitions and improved to 2-0 in the Top 16 with its 10th victory from its past 11 Euroleague games. David Blatt’s men visit Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania next Thursday.
Mantas Kalnietis had 18 points for Kuban, which dropped to 0-2.
Sofo seemed set to miss at least two Euroleague games after Wednesday’s diagnosis, but he surprisingly started for the hosts and wasted no time in making his presence felt.
The Greek center recorded two of his better games of the season against Kuban in the regular season and Lokomotiv’s coach Evgeny Pashutin spoke of his concern about facing Sofo once more ahead of the contest.
He knew exactly what he was talking about, with Schortsanitis finishing the first quarter with 14 points, hitting all six of his field-goal attempts.
However, Sofo got little help on offense from his teammates, and despite his heroics, the score was tied at 21-21 after 10 minutes.
With Sofo soon picking up quick fouls in characteristic fashion, Maccabi had to look elsewhere in the second period.
The rest of the roster picked up the slack before the Greek’s only basket of the quarter opened a nine-point cushion (35-26).
Maccabi took a 45-38 lead into the second half, but Kuban would score seven of the first eight points of the third frame to close to within a single point (45-44) before moving in front (55-54) following Derrick Brown’s jumper with just under three minutes to play in the quarter.
A Rice three-pointer to beat the third-period buzzer ensured Maccabi had the edge (64-62) entering the final 10 minutes and five straight points by Smith would increase the gap to 77-68. Another Rice basket would complete a game-winning 16-4 (85-70) run and secure Tel Aviv another impressive Euroleague win.