By Amy Samin
The nation’s team got their first away victory in the Euroleague when they outlasted Anadolu Efes Istanbul 79 – 72 in Turkey. Jordan Farmar, who faced off against his good friend Sasha Vujacic, had a terrific game, with 18 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. David Blu also played a key role in the win, scoring 15 points and providing excellent defense. Another bright spot in the win was team captain Tal Burstein, who contributed much more than his 7 points and 7 rebounds. The win gives Maccabi a 3 – 1 record in Group C.
Maccabi’s starting five were Sofo Schortsanitis, Devin Smith, Lior Eliyahu, Jordan Farmar, and Yogev Ohayon. The game started slowly for both teams, and after three minutes Efes had taken a 4 – 0 lead. The shots continued to refuse to drop, and after almost four and a half minutes Maccabi trailed 8 – 1. Points by Eliyahu and a steal + layup by Farmar narrowed the gap, but the hosts bumped up their lead to 10 – 5 halfway through the period. Farmar scored again off an assist by Richard Hendrix to make it 10 – 8, but Efes quickly scored in reply. A drive to the basket by David Blu and a layup by Farmar put Maccabi within one point, then Shawn James scored the go-ahead dunk to put Maccabi on top for the first time in the game as time ran out on the first period, 14 – 13.
Early in the second quarter Maccabi extended their lead to 18 – 15, but Efes came charging back, retaking the lead at 22 – 20 after three and a half minutes on a three pointer from Cenk Akyol. Farmar and Eliyahu put the lead back in Maccabi’s hands when they converted two fast breaks into points, 24 – 22 near the halfway mark in the period. The teams traded baskets for several minutes until a three by Ersan Ilyasova put the home team up by one, 29 – 28 with three and a half minutes left in the half. Ohayon tied the score from the charity stripe, and Eliyahu (two buckets off amazing assists by Farmar) and Burstein gave Maccabi some breathing room, 36 – 30 with a minute left. Efes didn’t give up, but a dunk by James (assist Burstein) closed out the half with Maccabi leading 38 – 35.
Blu kicked off the third quarter with a trey from the left corner followed by a putback that made it 43 – 39 after a minute and a half. He also continued to play strong defense, keeping the Turks in check while Farmar scored to give Maccabi their biggest lead of the game, 52 – 43 at the halfway mark in the period. Vujacic drained two straight from outside the arc to put Efes within three, 52 – 49, but an alley-oop from Farmar to Eliyahu nipped that run in the bud. With just under forty seconds left in the period, Hendrix scored in the paint and Smith drained a three from the left corner, and the quarter ended with Maccabi leading 59 – 53.
The fourth quarter opened with a beautiful drive to the basket and 1 by Ohayon, who went on to dish to Sofo, who made it 64 – 58. The home team once again pulled within one, 68 – 67 with just under three minutes left in the game. A fadeaway jumper by Farmar was answered by more points from downtown by Vujacic, who tied the score at 70 all with two minutes remaining. In the end, it was 9 of 10 shooting from the foul line by Farmar, Burstein and Blu in the final 1:56 of the game that gave Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv the win over Anadolu Efes Istanbul, 79 – 72.
Maccabi: Farmar 18 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds; Blu 15 points, 4 rebounds; Eliyahu 12 points, 1 assist; Schortsanitis 12 points, 5 rebounds; Burstein 7 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block; James 6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist; Ohayon 4 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal; Smith 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist; Hendrix 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block.
Top scorers for Anadolu Efes: Vujacic 21 points; Barac 17 points.