By Amy Samin
The 83 – 76 victory over KK Crvena Zvezda brought Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv’s record to 9 – 0 in the Adriatic League. The unstoppable Sofo Schortsanitis led all scorers with 19 points. Maccabi’s other players in double figures were Ohayon (5 assists) and Langford with 12 points each, Eliyahu with 11, and Smith with 10 points. Team captain Tal Burstein (ill) and David Blu (resting) did not play.
Maccabi’s starting lineup included Yogev Ohayon, Lior Eliyahu, Keith Langford, Devin Smith, and Sofo Schortsanitis. The home team jumped to an early 4 – 0 lead courtesy of Petar Popović, but Smith scored from downtown and then stole the ball. Maccabi took their first lead of the game after two and a half minutes, off a steal and points by Ohayon, 7 – 6. The Serbians retook the lead, but two straight buckets by Eliyahu made it 11 – 9 with four minutes gone. Six different Maccabi players scored in the second half of the period, including Sofo with a basket and 1, Eliyahu in the paint, Ohayon with 3 of 4 from the foul line, a one-handed dunk from Richard Hendrix (assist Theo Papaloukas) and a 360 spin-and-in from Shawn James. The quarter ended with Maccabi up by eight, 25 – 17.
Another one-handed slammer by Hendrix (again, assist Papa) at the start of the second quarter put Maccabi’s lead in double digits, but the Serbians pulled within five off points by Branko Lazić and Popović. A trey from Jon Scheyer off a no-look, behind the back pass from Hendrix gave Maccabi some breathing room, 30 – 22. Langford added points off the glass, but the hosts kept chipping away at the deficit until the score was 33 – 29 with three minutes left in the half. Sofo and Langford kept Maccabi’s offense afloat, and the teams went into the halftime break with Maccabi leading 41 – 36.
Zvezda stayed within three for much of the first half of the second quarter, with Sofo and Ohayon keeping Maccabi in the lead. Once again it was a three pointer from Scheyer, this time from the right corner (assist James) that gave Maccabi some space, 49 – 44 after three and a half minutes. James, Ohayon, and Smith scored while Maccabi’s defense made things difficult for the Serbians, and the visitor’s lead grew to 58 – 49 with four minutes left in the period. Points by Nemanja Nedović and Mile Ilić put the home team within four, but back-to-back buckets by Hendrix (including a double-fisted dunk off a dime from Ohayon) made it 62 – 54 with two minutes remaining. Sofo continued to do what he does best, and the period ended with Maccabi leading 66 – 59.
Every time Maccabi scored at the start of the fourth quarter, the Serbians responded; a layup off a steal made it 70 – 63 after a minute and a half, and a minute and a half after that the point difference was still seven, 74 – 67 off an Eliyahu guava shot (assist Papa). Zvezda refused to back down and pulled within two when Lazić snuck in through the back door to make it 75 – 73 just past the halfway mark in the period. Smith made a special delivery from downtown and Eliyahu slammed in a dunk to put Maccabi up 80 – 73, while Sofo and Scheyer both picked Nedović’s pocket. Smith rejected Milutinović for Maccabi’s only block of the night, and added a deuce to wrap things up. Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv came away with an 83 – 76 victory over KK Crvena Zvezda of Belgrade, and maintained their perfect record in the Adriatic League.
Maccabi: Schortsanitis 19 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal; Ohayon 12 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds; Langford 12 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal; Eliyahu 11 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist; Smith 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block; Hendrix 9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist; Scheyer 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal; James 4 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist.
Top scorers for Crvena Zvezda: P. Popović 17 points; Milutinović 15 points.