Maccabi falls, will settle for 2nd in Group F

Barcelona shoots the lights out in second half en route to 92-85 OT win at Nokia.

Jeremy Pargo 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Jeremy Pargo 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Maccabi Tel Aviv will have to take the harder route to the Euroleague Final Four after losing 92-85 to Barcelona in overtime at Nokia Arena on Thursday night.
Tel Aviv needed to win by 11 points to erase the 81-71 defeat in Barcelona from earlier this season and leapfrog the Catalans into first place in Group F of the Top 16. But despite leading by 12 points in the second quarter, and by nine (39-30) at halftime, Maccabi simply could not cope with Barca’s depth and talent, and a 14-3 run by the visitors to start the fourth period ended any dreams the hosts may have had of finishing first in the group.
Tel Aviv visits Lottomatica Roma in its final Top 16 game next week, but regardless of the result, it will finish second in the group and will miss out on home-court advantage in the quarterfinal playoffs when it faces the team that finishes first in Group E for a place in the Final Four.
Jeremy Pargo led Maccabi with 19 points, with Sofoklis Schortsanitis scoring 16 points and Chuck Eidson adding 13 for Tel Aviv, which shot just 15 of 25 from the free-throw line and 35 percent (8 of 23) from beyond the arc.
Former Maccabi forward Terence Morris had 19 points for Barcelona, including five three-pointers, with Juan Carlos Navarro scoring 17 points, all of them in the second half.
Doron Perkins scored the first points of the night from beyond the arc and it wasn’t long before even Barcelona was victimized by another of Maccabi’s murderously fast starts.
Eidson’s three-pointer midway through the first period opened a double-digit margin (16-6), but any notion that Barca would fold in the first quarter like so many of Tel Aviv’s opponents this season was quickly dispelled, with Morris hitting two straight threes to cut the gap to 16-12.
A Pargo triple ensured the hosts still had an important cushion (24- 16) entering the second period and a Milan Macvan basket at the start of the quarter opened a 28-16 advantage, the first and only time Maccabi led by more than the 11 point-margin it was aiming for.
Maccabi took a 39-30 lead into the break, but after going scoreless in the first half, Navarro began to find his range and his third three of the third frame closed Barcelona’s deficit to just two points (52-50).
The visitors soon tied the score (54-54), but Pargo ensured Maccabi was still ahead with 10 minutes to play, hitting successive threes to open a six-point gap (60-54).
However, Barca opened the fourth frame with a 14-3 run to lead 68-63, suffocating Tel Aviv’s offense and hitting threes at will.
Maccabi was still given one more chance to win by the required margin after Alan Anderson fouled Perkins with 1.4 seconds to play and the American guard hit both foul shots to send the game into overtime (70-70).
But Barca dominated the extra five minutes and wrapped up a deserved win.