By Amy Samin
In only his second game with Maccabi, newcomer Demond Mallet was chosen game MVP after scoring 18 points and leading the team well on both ends of the court. The 77 – 57 victory came in the fourteenth round of the Adriatic League, where Maccabi tops the standings with a 14 – 1 record (due to scheduling, Maccabi has played one more game at this point than the other teams in the league). Devin Smith added 14 points and 5 rebounds, and Richard Hendrix (7 rebounds), Guy Pnini and Lior Eliyahu (4 steals) each scored 7.
Maccabi’s starters were Devin Smith, Guy Pnini, Yogev Ohayon, Sofo Schortsanitis, and Demond Mallet. The visitors scored on the first possession of the game, but then slowed the pace dramatically, going on to take a 7 – 0 lead over the next couple of minutes. Maccabi’s first points in the game came from Mallet, who made it 7 – 2 nearly three minutes into the game. Jure Lalić, who dominated Krka’s offense, scored a bucket and free throw, but was answered by points from Richard Hendrix in the paint (assist Ohayon) and Smith from the foul line. Hendrix added a dunk soon after, and Theo Papaloukas added two straight baskets (the first off a slick bounce pass in the paint from Hendrix) to put the lead in Maccabi’s hands 12 – 11 with two minutes left in the period. Shawn James added two blocks - one of which he sent into next week – but Lalić scored again to return the lead to Krka. Team captain Tal Burstein dropped in a smooth-as-silk trey from the top of the arc but the visitors scored again at the buzzer to finish the period leading 17 – 15.
The second quarter got underway with points from the free throw line for the Slovenians, but Papaloukas threaded the needle to Lior Eliyahu for the bucket and 1 to tie the score at 18. Krka managed to pull ahead 22 – 18, but Mallet’s three point catch-and-shoot on the inbounds put Maccabi within one. Smith then scored twice (layup on the inbounds pass and a three from the right corner, assist Burstein) to give Maccabi a 26 – 22 lead close to the halfway mark in the period. A steal + layup by Mallet gave Maccabi a bit of breathing room, and points by Shawn James and Smith set the score at 35 – 29 with less than half a minute remaining in the quarter. Mallet thrilled the crowd with a buzzer-beating three from the right wing (assist Burstein), and the teams went into the break with Maccabi leading 38 – 29.
Mallet kicked off the third quarter for Maccabi with a long two from the left corner (assist James) and another steal + layup combo that put Maccabi’s lead in double digits, 42 – 31 just over a minute into the period. Hansbrough and Uroš Lučić scored for the visitors, but a drive-turned-dish by Pnini to Smith in the right corner, followed by a twisting layup off the glass by Pnini, made it 48 – 36 midway through the quarter. For the next three minutes Maccabi’s defense shone, with steals and deflections, traps and a shot clock violation shaking up the Slovenians. With one and a half minutes left in the period, Mallet drained two from the top of the key. Sofo added points in the paint, and the period ended with Maccabi up by twelve, 52 – 40.
Sofo and Eliyahu dominated in the early minutes of the final period, with two straight baskets by the Greek and a steal/dunk and another steal by the Israeli, followed by another bucket fed by a Hail Mary pass from Hendrix off a defensive board, 60 – 43 Maccabi. Hendrix rejected a shot by Hansbrough, and Mallet, Pnini and Scheyer each added two from the charity stripe to make it 66 – 50 with three minutes left in the game. Papaloukas, Hendrix and Scheyer all added layups and Pnini scored from downtown with less than a minute left. James’ layup with seconds left on the clock made it official, and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv added another check in the win column with a 77 – 57 victory over KK Krka Novo Mesto.
Maccabi: Mallet 18 points, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 rebound; Smith 14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal; Hendrix 7 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block; Guy Pnini 7 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound; Eliyahu 7 points, 4 steals, 1 rebound, 1 assist; Papaloukas 6 points, 7 assists, 3 steals, 2 rebounds; Schortsanitis 6 points, 2 rebounds; James 5 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 assists, 1 steal; Scheyer 4 points, 2 rebounds; Burstein 3 points, 2 assists, 1 block.
Top scorer for Krka Novo Mesto: Jure Lalić 18 points.