By Amy Samin
After a slow start in the first quarter, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv got down to business, dominating both ends of the court and defeating Anadolu Efes Istanbul 96 – 57 in Week 9 of the Euroleague, thereby securing second place in Group C less than two weeks before the draw for the Top 16 round (which will take place on December 28). David Blu was fabulous with 18 points (4 of 6 from three point range), Sofo Schortsanitis scored 17 points, and Lior Eliyahu contributed 16 points. Also enjoying excellent games were Guy Pnini (3 three pointers), Devin Smith (6 rebounds and 3 blocks), and Tal Burstein and Yogev Ohayon who ran the game like clockwork.
Blatt’s starters were Devin Smith, Lior Eliyahu, Yogev Ohayon, Sofo Schortsanitis, and Keith Langford. The visitors took an early lead off points by Stanko Barac and Sinan Guler, but Eliyahu and Sofo scored in the paint to put Maccabi up 6 – 4 after three and a half minutes. A three pointer by Sasha Vujacic gave the Turkish team a 10 – 8 lead near the halfway mark, and the visitors scored twice more to extend their lead to seven, 15 – 8. Points by Smith stopped the run with three minutes left in the period, but a steal + layup made it a ten point game, 20 – 10 to Efes. David Blu scored from downtown at the shot clock buzzer to cut the lead to seven, and two straight buckets by Richard Hendrix made it 20 – 17 as time ran out on the first quarter.
Efes opened the second quarter with two straight baskets to make it 24 – 17 after just under two minutes, but Sofo battled his way to the hoop and Langford scored from the charity stripe to cut the deficit to 24 – 21. Cenk Akyol drained a three to give the visitors some breathing room but a dunk (assist Eliyahu) and a putback by Sofo and points by Smith tied the score at 27 with three and a half minutes left in the half. Hendrix’s go-ahead pair from the foul line was followed by points from Langford and Eliyahu to round out Maccabi’s 12 – 0 scoring run; a trey (three of only eleven points in the period for the visitors) from Vujacic made it 33 – 30 with a minute left. Smith sank a basket from outside the arc to give Maccabi a little breathing room going into halftime with a five point lead, 36 – 31.
A three from Langford was followed by two straight baskets by Sofo early in the third quarter to set the score at 43 – 34. A one-handed dunk by Eliyahu off an oop by Burstein put Maccabi’s lead in double digits, 45 – 34 after two and a half minutes, and caused Turkish coach Ufuk Sarica to call for a time out. Sofo and Hendrix combined to keep Maccabi’s lead hovering around ten for the next few minutes, and Maccabi’s tough defense kept the visitors’ points to a minimum. Team captain Tal Burstein delivered a catch-and-shoot from downtown and two points from the free throw line, increasing the lead to 54 – 42 with three and a half minutes left in the period. Three straight Blu-and-shoots from downtown in the final two and a half minutes of the period (assists by Ohayon and Burstein) broke the game wide open for Maccabi, and the quarter ended with the home team leading 65 – 46.
The start of the fourth quarter was more a continuation of the previous period, with Blu draining another bucket on the inbounds. Maccabi’s defense kept the Turkish team away from the basket, while the offense continued to move the ball well. Guy Pnini got in on the fun with a trey of his own from the right wing, making it 75 – 48 after three and a half minutes. Ohayon showed great hustle with a steal that ended in points at the other end, but Maccabi still had more to deliver from outside the arc: Pnini scored from the right corner off an assist from Hendrix and Jon Scheyer sent home a three from the same spot to make it 89 – 54 with two and a half minutes left in the game. Eliyahu and Hendrix scored again, and Pnini sank yet another three (assist Langford) to end the game with Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeating Anadolu Efes Istanbul 96 – 57.
Maccabi: Blu 18 points (4 of 6 from 3 point range), 1 rebound, 1 assist; Schortsanitis 17 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist; Eliyahu 16 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists; Hendrix 10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist; Pnini 9 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block; Smith 7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 assist, 1 steal; Langford 7 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists; Burstein 5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal; Ohayon 4 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals; Scheyer 3 points; James 1 rebound, 1 block; Papaloukas 1 assist.
Top scorers for Anadolu Efes: Vujacic 12 points; Tunceri 9 points; Savanovic 8 points.