Maccabi right at home in Tel Aviv

Maccabi Tel Aviv rolled to a 110-87 victory over Olimpija Ljubljana, recording its 12th consecutive home win in the Euroleague.

maccabi tel aviv 88 (photo credit: )
maccabi tel aviv 88
(photo credit: )
Maccabi Tel Aviv rolled to a 110-87 victory over Olimpija Ljubljana on Thursday night at Nokia Arena, recording its 12th consecutive home win in the Euroleague. Ljubljana put up a fight for the first 15 minutes of the game, but the Slovenian team couldn't keep pace with Maccabi's high-scoring game and the hosts breezed to their fourth win of the European season. Nikola Vujcic was once again vital in the win and registered a triple-double, scoring 27 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists in only 26 minutes of playing time. "I enjoy passing the ball, and we have such good players that finish it off with baskets," Vujcic said after the game. "We need games like this, especially with our next match being against Panathinaikos. We needed this win to boost our confidence." Tel Aviv visits unbeaten Panathinaikos next week in what will be its toughest test by far this season. "In the first few minutes, we were poor, but in the second and third period we played the way we wanted to," Maccabi coach Neven Spahija said after the game. "Every team in Europe and the NBA would want Vujcic. He plays for the team and he is a real star." Sharon Shason came off the bench to score 19 points and grab five rebounds with Will Bynum, Jamie Arnold, Simas Jasaitis and Yotam Halperin each contributing 12 points. Even with ideal preparation, Ljubljana was always going to have a tough time at Nokia Arena and its arrival in Israel on Thursday afternoon only made life more difficult. The team landed just several hours before tipoff. The Slovenian club was supposed to land Wednesday afternoon, but the strike at Ben-Gurion Airport delayed the flight. Marko Milic scored 23 points and dished out six assists with Ender Arslan adding 14 points for Ljubljana. Milic scored the first points of the game and the Slovenian club was having no part of the predictions that it would easily fold. Jasaitis gave Maccabi a 5-2 lead after a minute, but the team from Ljubljana stayed close and Milic's 10th point of the game midway through the quarter tied the score at 18. Milic continued to score at will and his successful free throw in the closing stages of the period gave the visitors their biggest lead of the game 25-20. Tel Aviv closed the margin slightly in the dying seconds of the quarter, but Olimpija still led 26-24 after 10 minutes. Four straight points by Vujcic at the start of the second quarter gave Maccabi a two-point lead (28-26) and the yellow-and-blue began to edge away. A three-pointer by Shason midway through the second put Maccabi up 39-34 and Ljubljana's resistance faded quickly. A three-pointer by Vujcic with a minute to go in the half and a dunk soon after gave Maccabi a comfortable 53-43 lead at halftime and Olimpija was in trouble. After the break, a basket from beyond the arc by Halperin gave the hosts a 60-46 lead, but Maccabi wasn't done. Two points by Shason extended the advantage to 24 (70-46) and Olimpija looked helpless. Arnold scored the hosts' last points of the period, capping a 28-9 third quarter for Maccabi. After Tel Aviv's lead reached 81-52, Spahija gave his regulars a bit of a rest. Nevertheless, the hosts' lead continued to grow and at one stage were up by as many as 35 points. Ljubljana made the score only slightly more respectable in the closing stages of the game. However, Tel Aviv was home free and registered another win at the Nokia Arena.