Maccabi TA outlasts Milano in 2 OTs

Maccabi scored only 35 points in the first half, but its offense woke up in the third period with 29.

maccabi TA 88 (photo credit: )
maccabi TA 88
(photo credit: )
Will Solomon hit a three-point shot with 2.6 seconds left in double overtime on Thursday night to lift Maccabi Tel Aviv over a resilient AJ Milano 96-95 at Nokia Arena. "Coach told me to take the last shot and seeing as it was a second overtime I went for the win," said Solomon after the game. "It's nice to win such a close game and we will gain confidence from this victory." After a poor first half in which Maccabi only scored 35 points, Tel Aviv exploded for 29 in the third quarter and led by as much as 12 points in the quarter. Game MVP Nikola Vujcic scored 16 of his 26 points in the game in the third quarter aiding Maccabi to open a lead. "It was a difficult game and we never gave up and eventually won. Winning can't always be easy and today was an especially sweet victory," said Vujcic after the game. The Hardy Italians closed the gap in the forth quarter and the game went into overtime. The overtime was tight throughout with neither team managing to open a gap, finally sending both sides into a second overtime which was settled by Solomon's three-pointer. Tel Aviv was fortunate to go into the interval only five points behind, with Derrick Sharp responsible for keeping Maccabi close. Sharp put in a true captain's performance, scoring 12 of his 20 points in the first half. The win maintains Maccabi's perfect home record in the Euroleague, but the yellow-and-blue dropped to forth and is one game behind Group B leaders Efes Pilsen with a 3-2 record. Coach Pini Gershon said after the game, "It's not easy to play 50 minutes, we should have won the game in regulation but we didn't make our free throws." Maccabi will host Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius next week, with the Lithuanians coming off a shock 72-51 win over Pilsen in Istanbul. Maccabi opened up an early lead in the first quarter, leading by as many as nine at one stage. A good second quarter by the visitors, which included a 9-0 run, meant the Italians were up 40-35 at halftime. Milano settled for long-range jump shots for most of the first half with point guard Massimo Bulleri shooting six times and scoring twice. Maccabi began the game with Sharp, who besides scoring three three-pointers in the first half also kept a close eye on Bulleri, limiting the dangerous Italian to scoring four of 10 field goals in the first half. Maccabi came out of the locker room with a lot of energy and quickly opened up a third-quarter lead. Sharp continued to hit three-pointers and together with an excellent quarter by Vujcic put Maccabi nine points ahead going into the final quarter. Milano cut into Maccabi's lead at the start of the fourth quarter and eventually drew even with the yellow-and-blue. The game went into overtime with Solomon ultimately settling the thriller with a three-pointer.