Maccabi Electra thrashed Anadolu Efes 96-57
Maccabi Electra had a resounding home win on Thursday night against Anadolu Efes, 96-57, in the battle for second place in Group C. The game was a close
story during the first half as both teams went back and forth. However, in the third quarter, powerful inside play and a single man, David Blu, later
allowedMaccabi to pull away for good. Now, Maccabi has sole possession of the second place in Group C with a 6-3 record while Efes drops to 5-4. Both teams
had already advanced to the Top 16 prior to this game. Blu led the winners with his 18 points including 4 of 6 threes. Sofoklis Schortsanitis added 17, Lior Eliyahu added 16 and 9 boards, and Richard Hendrix contributed with 10. For Anadolu Efes, only Sasha Vujacic, with 12 points, reached double figures.
Both teams started soon with an exciting back and forth. Stanko Barac opened fire for Efes with his bucket but Lior Eliyahu soon replied for Maccabi. Dusko
Savanovic and Sasha Vujacic obliged when the guests looked for the outside shots, with two threes that made it 8-10 as Maccabi called for the first timeout.
After the break, Efes' defense was simply perfect, forcing turnovers, collecting steals and whatnot. On the other end of the court, the threes kept raining
in Maccabi's rim as Kerem Tunceri blasted two of them and then a steal and fastbreak finished off by Sinan Guler for 10-20 forced another quick Maccabi
timeout. It was the wake up call that Maccabi needed because David Blu blasted a three on the shot clock buzzer and then Richard Hendrix scored again for the
hosts in a roaring Nokia Arena, allowing Maccabi to be only trailing by three after 10 minutes, 17-20.
The second quarter started with a 0-4 personal run by Ermal Kuqo to put Efes ahead again at 17-24, but with Sofoklis Schortsanitis back to the floor, Maccabi
was starting to look more inside, 23-27 after Sofo's slam. Another couple of inside plays starring Devin Smith and Sofo allowed Maccabi to tie the game at
27-27, not forgetting that good defense was forcing turnovers on the guests as well. Efes was on a blacout now, and the hosts, boosted by the fans, managed
finally to jump ahead. Keith Langford capped a 10-0 run by driving in traffic for the 31-27. Eliyahu extended the run of the hosts but Vujacic finally nailed
a three for Efes which, however, found quick response in Smith's bomb for Maccabi and 36-30. A free throw by Esteban Batista put an end to the first half
with a 36-31 Maccabi edge.
In the start of the second half, Efes was back on court ready and willing but Maccabi had found its rhythm. Langford started with a three and then Sofo hit
it inside for the hosts and 41-34. With solid inside game, Maccabi was starting to build a solid lead, while Efes was also struggling in offense inside
because of the defense of the hosts. Savanovic hit a three to keep Efes' hopes alive but Tal Burstein pulled up for another to keep Maccabi at a safe
distance. Maccabi was controlling the defensive rebound and that allowed for fast transitions but also organized static play when Blu pulled up for two
straight threes that made it 62-44 against the helpless Efes defense. Blu seemed to enjoy the situation and appeared for his third straight triple that
finally made it a 20-point game for Maccabi, but it was a Savanovic free throw that closed the quarter with a 65-46.
Blu was still on fire at the start of the final period for Maccabi, as his team's first four points came from him. A starting 7-2 in the first minutes was starting to demoralize Efes and when Guy Pnini blasted a three to the thrill of the fans in the stands, the score was 75-48 and the game was a done deal. With some patience, Efes managed to move the ball for a while until Vlado Ilievski found an open shot that went in, but the game belonged to Maccabi, who replied with two more baskets for a 81-52 with four minutes to go that said it all. When Jon Scheyer hit a three for his first ever points in the Euroleague and the 89-54, the Nokia Arena exploded in joy as Maccabi claimed a much deserved win.
Friday, December 16, 2011