By Amy Samin
Maccabi started off the game with Andrew Wisniewski, Alan Anderson, Stephane Lasme, Maciej Lampe and, in his Euroleague debut in a starting five, Israeli Guy Pnini.
The visitors from Greece offered up Billy Keys, Michalis Pelekanos, Jared Homan, Kostas Kaimakoglou and Jamon Lucas as their starters.
The first quarter got off to a close but slow start, with Maciej Lampe trading baskets with Maroussi and finally dishing one off to Alan Anderson for a two-handed dunk that put the score at 10 – 9 Maroussi near the halfway mark of the period.
A coast-to-coast steal + layup from Andrew Wisniewski turned the advantage to Maccabi, and were followed by Stephane Lasme tapping the ball out of the hands of one of the visitors and finishing with a tidy dunk at the other end, making it 13 – 10 Maccabi.
But once again Maroussi slowed the game down, and Maccabi’s only other score of the quarter came from Lasme with 1:20 left on the clock.
The period ended with the score only 15 – 15.
The game’s sluggish pace continued in the second quarter; after three and a half minutes of play the score stood at 22 all.
Maccabi played excellent defense, putting on a full-court press, creating traps and causing Maroussi to turn over the ball (including a shot clock violation), but halfway through the period Maroussi clung to a slim lead, 26 – 24.
Maccabi head coach Pini Gershon subbed in various players, trying to find a combination that would get the game out of slow motion, but even the entrance of team captain Derrick Sharp into the game did little to speed up more than the pulses of the fans.
His presence did, however, seem to give Maccabi more confidence, and with just under two minutes left in the half, they began to chip away at Maroussi’s eight point lead (40 – 32).
Lampe showed some good moves in the final minutes, with a basket, a near occasion of a steal, rebounds and some free throws, all of which helped keep Maccabi in the game.
David Bluthenthal sank one of his classic three-pointers from the corner to make it 40 – 39 Maroussi with 40 seconds on the clock.
Another long bomb from Blu just missed, but Lampe was there to tap it in at the buzzer, and the teams went into the halftime break with Maccabi leading 41 – 40.
Nothing much seemed changed at the start of the second half, but a pretty steal – oop – dunk from Sharp to Wiz to Lampe showed off some fine teamwork by the home team, and put the score at 45 – 43 Maccabi after a couple minutes of play.
Another signature steal + layup from Wisniewski put Maccabi up by three, 49 – 46 with just under six minutes left in the period.
Wiz continued to contribute, dishing first to Lampe for a three and then to Pnini for a spinning fade-away that made it 54 – 46 Maccabi with about three and half on the clock.
The Greeks didn’t give up, but never retook the lead, and the third quarter ended with baskets by Doron Perkins and Pnini (off a steal by Eidson), putting the score at 61 – 54 Maccabi.
The fourth quarter was as listless as the first three, though Maccabi’s tough defense held the visitors to only five points in the first half of the period, 68 - 59.
Wiz, Anderson and Pnini showed good effort in the closing minutes, and a mid-range jumper from Bluthenthal capped off the scoring, giving Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv a 75 – 67 win over Maroussi BC.
Maccabi: Wisniewski 20 points, 4 assists; Lampe 19 points, 9 rebounds; Pnini 7 points, 6 rebounds; Bluthenthal 7 points; Eidson and Perkins 6 points; Lasme and Anderson 4 points each; Fischer 3 points.
Sharp played but did not score.
Maroussi: Keys 14 points; Mavroeidis and Lucas 12 points each; Nadjfeji 7 points; Homan 6 points; Milosevits 5 points; Kaimakoglou and Pelekanos 4 points each; Calathes 2 points.
“It was one of those games that you just have to get through,” said Maccabi head coach Pini Gershon after it was over.
“Unfortunately, for part of the game they were able to stop us; in other parts less so.
It seems we have a problem with rebounding; we guard well but we need to finish the job and at this point we’re not doing that well.
The players know this.
The key word in games like this is patience, and we didn’t have it this time.”
Gershon was pleased by Maciej Lampe’s efforts.
“I’m happy for Lampe that he played well tonight.
He understood that he needs to go to the fast break instead of the rebound, and that helped him and us.
I wasn’t in favor of the switch to zone defense, because we didn’t practice it in the last few days.
It helped us against their drives to the basket, but hurt us on rebounds.
Wisniewski was good, but I think he can be even better.
He doesn’t take enough on himself; he could penetrate more, and his game is too team-oriented.
He guards in such a way that it’s very tough to score off him, is excellent at steals, and is a responsible player.”
Talking about Maccabi’s next Euroleague game, Gershon said, “Ljubljana is one of the toughest courts to play on.
We need to take one game at a time.
They’re now back in the picture for the Top 16 and we won’t have an easy time.”