Maccabi claws back, knocks out Moscow 80-76

Maccabi Tel Aviv extended its Euroleague winning streak to eight games; Lior Eliyahu injured in win.

Lior Eliyahu_311 (photo credit: (Adi Avishai))
Lior Eliyahu_311
(photo credit: (Adi Avishai))
Maccabi Tel Aviv extended its Euroleague winning streak to eight games on Thursday night, defeating BC Khimki Moscow 80-76 at Nokia Arena.
Maccabi had secured first place in Group A with two games to spare last week, but despite having little to play for on Thursday, it still came back from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter to clinch yet another continental win.
Jeremy Pargo had 18 points and Guy Pnini scored 15 for Maccabi, which visits Prokom Gdynia next week for its final regular season game before the start of the Top 16 on January 19.
Keith Langford had 20 points for Khimki.
It was clear from the start which team needed the win more and it was of little surprise that the visitors took the early initiative.
However, Maccabi soon found its rhythm, especially Sofoklis Schortsanitis, who gave the hosts a 17-9 gap with a three-point play.
Tel Aviv looked comfortable, but five minutes into the game it lost its composure when Lior Eliyahu went down hard after scoring a lay-up and had to be helped off the court on his way to the dressing room.
Khimki fought like a team that needed to win to maintain any hope of advancing to the Top 16 next week, and Langford’s three-pointer to finish the first period brought the visitors within three points (18-15).
The Russians would then begin the second quarter with a stunning 18-2 run to take complete control of the encounter.
Langford and Kresimir Loncar shredded Maccabi’s defense and the visitors opened a 33-20 margin.
The yellow-and-blue limited the damage slightly in the remainder of the first half, but at the break Maccabi was still trailing 37-30.
Khimki was still in charge after Thomas Kelati’s three gave it a 50-40 gap midway through the third frame, but Maccabi would outscore the Russians 19-5 in the remainder of the period and had the momentum on its side with 10 minutes to play, leading 59-55.
David Blatt’s men continued to display their trademark defensive intensity at the start of the fourth period and maintained their lead until the final whistle.
Also Thursday, Maccabi Haifa lost 82-75 to Khimik Yuzhny in Nesher, missing a chance to wrap up its progress to the last 16 of the EuroChallenge.
Marco Killingsworth scored 17 points for Haifa, which