Resurgent Mac TA gets 5th-straight win

Maccabi stunned Olympiacos 73-67, improving to a 7-5 record, tied with Olympiacos.

david logan370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
david logan370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
A triumphant Maccabi Tel Aviv returned to Israel early Saturday morning after moving within touching distance of advancing to the Euroleague quarterfinals hours earlier with an upset win in Athens over reigning European champion Olympiacos.
Maccabi stunned the Greeks 73-67 for its fifth straight win in Top 16 Group F, improving to a 7-5 record, tied with Olympiacos.
Montepaschi Siena, which dropped to a surprising 72-70 loss at rock-bottom Besiktas JK, and Khimki Moscow, which thrashed Fenerbahce Ulker 99- 76 also hold a 7-5 record.
A win over Besiktas at Nokia Arena on Thursday combined with a Siena loss to group leader Barcelona (11-1) the following day will in all likelihood ensure the yellow-and-blue progress to the quarterfinals after claiming just two of its first seven Top 16 games.
However, the four-way tie for second place in Group F means that Maccabi will probably only be certain of its place in the last eight with the final buzzer of its last Top 16 game at Barcelona even should it defeat Besiktas.
Friday’s results mean Tel Aviv has even got a decent chance of ending the group in second place and clinching home-court advantage in the quarterfinals, something even the ever-optimistic David Blatt didn’t dare dream of after his team’s dismal start to the Top 16.
“Even after we lost three home games in the first round of the Top 16, I always believed in this team’s potential,” said coach Blatt. “We played an amazing first half, perhaps our best half of the season. Just as important, we also held on in the second half against a team which needed this win just as much as we did. However, we have yet to complete the job.
“We will remain grounded and work hard until the final moment.” Maccabi never trailed in Athens, opening an eight-point gap (21-13) by the end of the first period. The yellow- and-blue continued to dominate the Greeks in the second quarter, with David Logan’s fourth three-pointer of the night opening a stunning 18-point margin (41-23) at halftime.
Olympiacos closed to within seven points (56-49) by the end of the third frame and trailed by just three points (65- 62) with 3:34 minutes left.
However, three consecutive defensive stops helped Tel Aviv maintain its slender margin and Devin Smith’s three to beat the shot clock silenced the crowd (68-62) with 1:36 to go and Maccabi held on.
Logan scored 20 points, with Ricky Hickman netting 16, Smith adding 13 points and Shawn James contributing nine points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots. Vassilis Spanoulis led Olympiacos with 19 points.
“People said we had no chance after starting at 2-5 and that may have been true had they not been talking about Maccabi Tel Aviv,” said Yogev Ohayon, who finished with eight points and four assists.
“We are in the midst of a crazy comeback and we mustn’t slow down. We are delighted, but we know we haven’t guaranteed ourselves anything yet.”