Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv came back from a 13 point deficit early in the fourth quarter and was one shot away from victory with 6 seconds left, but in the end hosts Regal Barcelona emerged victorious, 70 – 67 in the final game of the Top 16 round of the Euroleague. Richard Hendrix led all scorers with 24 points and 10 rebounds; Keith Langford added 15 points and 6 rebounds. Team captain Tal Burstein and David Blu did not play due to minor injuries. Maccabi finished the Top 16 round in second place in Group H and with a 3 – 3 record.
“The team played well. It was a tough and physical game,” said head coach David Blatt. “Both teams respected the game, each other, and the fans and showed professionalism. It was an interesting and dramatic game. We were without Tal Burstein, David Blu, and of course Shawn James. We did the best we could, and in light of our busy week with four games, I think these guys deserve plenty of credit.” About the combination of Hendrix and Greek big man Sofo Schortsanitis playing together for more than a few minutes the coach noted, “It could be that it’s something we’ll use [in the Top 8] against Panathinaikos. One of the reasons we used that combination tonight was that Barcelona plays with two big men. We wanted to equalize that, and the second thing was that Blu didn’t play. His knee was bothering him, he wasn’t completely fit, so he rested. It worked out very well when they played together, but we can’t do that in every situation.”
Maccabi’s starting five were Keith Langford, Yogev Ohayon, Lior Eliyahu, Devin Smith, and Richard Hendrix. Maccabi started out well in the first quarter, jumping to a 6 – 0 lead off points by Hendrix and Langford, but Pete Mickeal and Barcelona woke up, and midway through the period took an 8 – 6 lead. The second half of the quarter was mainly a shootout between Mickeal and Hendrix (who finished the quarter with 15 points), with the latter scoring in the paint with a pair of hook shots and, later, a two handed dunk off a brilliant assist by Sofo Schortsanitis. Two points by Sofo brought Maccabi within one, 19 – 18, and an amazing catch-and-shoot three-pointer by Hendrix at the buzzer put Maccabi on top as the period ended, 21 – 19.
Barcelona quickly retook the lead as the second quarter got underway. Smith drained a three for Maccabi to make it 28 – 26, and Hendrix tied things up off a dish from Theo Papaloukas halfway through the period. Maccabi moved the ball well but couldn’t string together a scoring run, and though the half ended as the first quarter had, with points from Hendrix, it also ended with Barcelona up by one, 34 – 33.
Kosta Perovic and Joe Ingles scored for Barcelona early in the third period, and the hosts’ defense did a good job keeping Maccabi in check in the early minutes. Langford scored six points for Maccabi to keep the game from getting away from them, and Guy Pnini added one of his clutch threes from the corner to make it 47 – 42, Barcelona, with less than four minutes remaining in the quarter. Mickeal and CJ Wallace scored for the home team, though, and the period ended with the score 51 – 44, Barcelona.
Barcelona continued to score at will at the start of the fourth quarter, and after about a minute had taken a 57 – 44 lead. But in typical fashion Maccabi showed strength of character as they battled their way back into the game. Points by Sofo and Ohayon were followed by another trey from Smith which made it a six point game, 57 – 51 after two and a half minutes. Pnini added another catch-and-shoot from downtown (assist Hendrix), followed by the and 1 to make it 60 – 55 halfway through the final period. Ohayon and Langford combined for seven points to make it 64 – 62 with just over two minutes left in the game, but Barcelona refused to back down. A three by Marcelinho Huertas gave the hosts some breathing room, but Hendrix delivered a bucket and free throw to keep Maccabi one shot away from tying or taking the lead. A layup by Ohayon made it 68 – 67 with six seconds remaining, but Mickeal sank two from the foul line to end the game with a 70 – 67 victory for Regal Barcelona over Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv.
Maccabi will face Panathinaikos in the Top 8 quarterfinals best of 5 series.
Maccabi: Hendrix 24 points, 10 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist; Langford 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists; Ohayon 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist; Pnini 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal; Smith 6 points, 5 steals, 4 rebounds; Schortsanitis 4 points, 1 rebound, 2 steals, 2 assists, 1 block.
Top scorers for Barcelona: Mickeal 20 points; Huertas 10 points.