Maccabi stuns Real, revives season

Anderson top-scores with 20 points as Tel Aviv overcomes Messina’s Madrid 81-76.

Maccabi TA Wisniewski 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi TA Wisniewski 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv resurrected its Euroleague campaign on Thursday night,defeating Real Madrid 81-76 at the Nokia Arena in its best game of theseason by far.
Maccabi struggled desperately in the vastmajority of its continental games this campaign, and lost even when itplayed well against Montepaschi Siena last week.
However, onThursday it displayed the desire and determination it has lacked formuch of the season and claimed an impressive victory which gives itrenewed hope to advance to the quarterfinals from Group F of the Top 16.
“We won a massive game,” Maccabi coach Pini Gershon said. “I really enjoyed our performance.”
AlanAnderson and Chuck Eidson finally played well together for Maccabi andterrorized Real’s defense. Anderson scored 20 points, took eightrebounds and passed five assists with Eidson netting 18 points andgrabbing six rebounds.
D’or Fischer added 14 points for Tel Aviv, which hosts Efes Pilsen next Thursday.
RimantasKaukenas had 17 points for Real, but the Spaniards scored just 5-of-24from beyond the arc and fell to their third defeat of the Euroleagueseason.
Maccabi was hesitant at the start of the game and itspoor shot selection allowed Real to open an 8-2 lead after a PabloPrigioni three-pointer.
However, Tel Aviv improved its defensiveintensity as the game progressed and pegged Madrid back after findingits range on offense.
Anderson’s basket tied the score at 13-13and David Bluthenthal’s dunk with 12 seconds remaining in the periodmade sure the score was still level (18-18) after 10 minutes. StephaneLasme’s three-point move to start the second quarter gave Maccabi itsfirst lead of the night and the hosts extended the margin in thesubsequent minutes. Madrid struggled against Tel Aviv’s defense andBluthenthal’s triple opened a 30-22 gap.
Tel Aviv began makingReal look helpless and Bluthenthal’s lay-up capped the team’s best halfof the season to give it a well-deserved 41-34 lead.
Madrid cameout of the locker rooms with the resolve it was lacking in the firsthalf as Kaukenas scored seven points in the first 90 seconds to bringthe Spaniards within one possession (43-41).
Real, however, could not complete the comeback, with Maccabi regaining its rhythm and remaining in front.
Bluthenthal’saccurate free-throws with 3:30 remaining in the period gave Tel Aviv aseven-point advantage once more (54-47) and the hosts pulled furtherahead until the end of the quarter.
An Eidson dunk was followedby three more points from Anderson and Maccabi increased its lead to59-47. Eidson and Anderson were teaming up beautifully and Tel Avivtook a 64-54 margin into the final 10 minutes.
Real tried everything to get back into the game, but Maccabi was excellent on defense and effective on offense.
AMarko Jaric three brought Real within four points (78-74) with oneminute to go, but Doron Perkins scored from beyond the arc with 43seconds remaining and Tel Aviv claimed a well-earned victory.