By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv celebrated the start of the 2009-2010 Euroleague season with a decisive 85 – 65 victory over the Slovenians, who for much of the game looked helpless against Maccabi’s excellent defense.
Alan Anderson was a stand-out with 25 points, and Andrew Wisniewski contributed 19 points, 4 assists and terrific play on defense.
Immediately after the game, the team headed to the airport for their trip to New York, where they will face the Knicks on Sunday.
Just before the start of the game, Maccabi honored Shimon Mizrahi on the event of his 70th birthday.
Many former Maccabi stars gathered at center court for the occasion, including: Miki Berkovitz, Doron Jamchy, Motti Aroesti, Tal Brody, Alcee Perry, Nadav Henefeld, Oded Katash, Willie Smith and Guy Goodes.
Berkovitz was master of ceremonies.
During the ceremony, Mizrahi received a gift from the former Maccabi players, and another from Euroleague Basketball CEO Jordi Bertomeu.
The crowd was treated to a video highlighting Mizrahi’s first 40 years with Maccabi.
Following the clip, this season’s players wheeled out an enormous yellow and blue birthday cake with a basketball decoration and presented it to Mizrahi, who also received a hug and a kiss from team captain Derrick Sharp.
“Thank you, Shimon, for all you have given to Maccabi over the last 40 years, and all you have yet to give,” said Berkovitz.
“There’s no one else like you, and probably never will be.
You’ve given a great deal to the club over the years, and we thank you for that.”
Bertomeu added, “Thank you so much, Shimon, and congratulations on your birthday.
Thank you for all you have contributed to basketball and to your team.
Thank you, and a very happy birthday to you.”
Mizrahi responded, “Thank you, everyone.”
Maccabi opened the Euroleague season with starters Alan Anderson, Andrew Wisniewski, Maciej Lampe, Stephane Lasme and Chuck Eidson.
Union Olimpija started with Gaspar Vidmar, Uros Slokar, Matt Walsh, Dusan Djordjevic and Saso Ozbolt.
Maccabi’s big men got the game off to a good start with points from Lampe and a steal by Lasme that led to an unsportsmanlike call against Slokar in the first 30 seconds.
Eidson bounced one off the glass to put Maccabi up 5 -2.
After Wisniewski and Walsh exchanged three pointers the teams went into a time-out with the score 9 – 7, Maccabi.
For the next few minutes, Olimpija divided their time between creating fouls and turnovers, and Maccabi players spent a lot of time at the foul line; thanks to free throws from Anderson and Lasme, Maccabi’s lead grew to 15 – 7 with two minutes remaining.
Another three-pointer from Wisniewski and a flying layup by Eidson closed out the first quarter with the score 20 – 10, Maccabi.
Anderson opened the second period with a steal and a dunk, and Doron Perkins came into the game to run the show, starting things off with a layup off of a block/steal.
D’or Fischer found Anderson with a long pass for more points, and a shot from outside the arc by Anderson took Maccabi up to a 30 – 16 lead after four minutes.
Guy Pnini came into the game following a time-out, and Fischer began showing off his skill, rattling one in from near the foul line and scoring again off an assist from Eidson; the center had racked up 4 points and 3 rebounds before the end of the quarter.
Meanwhile, Olimpija was called so many times for traveling they could have been halfway back to Ljubljana by halftime.
The half ended with Maccabi firmly in the lead, 37 – 25.
Maccabi started off the second half with their game-openers, but three quick turnovers by the home team enabled the visitors to close the gap to seven, 37 – 30, after two minutes.
A three-pointer from the corner by Anderson and a layup by Lampe off an assist from Lasme put Maccabi back up by double digits, 43 – 32 after four minutes of play.
Anderson with an in-your-face dunk, points by the Wiz and a huge smack-that block by Fish kept Maccabi ahead with three and a half minutes left in the period.
A fade-away jumper by Eidson and free throws by Anderson finished off the quarter with the score 55 – 45.
It was Eidson and Fischer who got things started in the final period, with the former scoring a quick layup and the latter with another block and a follow-through at the basket to put Maccabi up 59 – 45 in the fist minute.
The Wiz, with another three-pointer and a steal + layup increased the home team’s lead to 64 – 45.
Another steal by Eidson with an assist to Perkins capped off an 11 – 0 scoring run for Maccabi, 66 – 45 with about six and a half minutes left in the game.
An acrobatic spin-and-stuff by Anderson upped Maccabi’s lead to 17, and Perkins added two more to set the score at 71 – 52 with four and a half on the clock.
Pnini came back into the game and in the next forty seconds scored, was hammered by Walsh under the basket and stole the ball, which he tossed off to Anderson who thrilled the crowd with a backwards dunk.
With two minutes left, Maccabi was up 78 – 55.
The closing minutes of the game saw Perkins score twice more and dish to Raviv Limonad in the corner for the final three-pointer of the night.
Final score: Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 85, Union Olimpija 65.
Maccabi: Anderson 25 points; Wisniewski 19 points, 4 assists; Perkins 10 points; Eidson 7 points, 4 assists; Fischer 7 points, 7 rebounds, 5 blocks; Lampe 6 points, 6 rebounds; Lasme 5 points, 6 assists; Limonad and Pnini 3 points each.
Union Olimpija: Walsh 18 points; Becirovic 13 points; Bavcic 11 points; Golubovic 10 points; Djordjevic 5 points; Slokar 5 points; Vidmar 2 points; Ozbolt 1 point.