By Amy Samin
After losing Game 1 on Tuesday, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv came out and showed all of Europe exactly what it means to be Maccabi. They played their hearts out and stole a tough away win in Game 2 of the best of five series against current Euroleague champions Panathinaikos Athens. Keith Langford (17 points), David Blu (16 points), Devin Smith and Yogev Ohayon (15 points each) all had great games
Coach Blatt’s starting five were Yogev Ohayon, Devin Smith, Richard Hendrix, Keith Langford, and Lior Eliyahu. The game was close right from the start, with both teams playing tough defense, and the hosts lighting up the scoreboard first. A stop and pop by Langford from the top of the key brought Maccabi within one, 7 – 6 Panathinaikos, but Dimitris Diamantidis scored for the Greeks soon after. Smith delivered from the stratosphere halfway through the period; points by Blu (assist Ohayon) and Sofo Schortsanitis tied the score at 13 with three minutes left in the period. Mike Batiste helped Panathinaikos pull away, but Langford and Shawn James helped keep Maccabi close. The period ended with the home team up 24 – 20.
James continued to be a factor at the start of the second quarter, especially on defense, while Blu scored a quick two on the inbounds play. A defensive rebound by Blu went to Ohayon for the fastbreak layup, and Blu, Smith and Sofo scored in quick succession to make it a one point game halfway through the period, 31 – 30 Panathinaikos. A three pointer by Saras Jasikevicius gave the hosts some breathing room, but Sofo and Langford scored to tie things up at 34 and Smith served up a huge rejection for Batiste. James dropped in a jumper from the top of the key, and a long range missile from Ohayon gave Maccabi their first lead, 39 – 38 with two minutes left in the first half. Maccabi’s defense continued to shine, with James battling for every rebound and loose ball, and Ohayon grabbing a steal and sending the dime to Blu for another fastbreak layup, 41 – 38 Maccabi. The Greeks managed to score five quick points in the final minute of the period though, and the teams went into the halftime break with Panathinaikos leading 43 – 41.
A drive in the lane and 1 by Ohayon in the early seconds of the third quarter put Maccabi back on top, but the lead changed hands three times in the space of three minutes until a dunk by Hendrix off an excellent pass in traffic from Langford, followed by a steal and layup by Langford, made it 50 – 49 Maccabi. The hosts retook the lead but were answered by Langford and Hendrix, whose putback hook tied the score at 54. A layup by Ohayon gave Maccabi back the lead with three and a half minutes left in the period and was soon followed by a steal + layup by the Israeli guard. Smith’s trey from the right wing put Maccabi’s lead at 61 – 54 with a minute and a half left, but the Greeks scored twice before the end of the period, which ended with Maccabi leading 61 – 58.
Maccabi rebuilt their lead at the start of the fourth quarter with points by Hendrix, Langford and Smith (who delivered once again from outside the arc), 68 – 58 Maccabi. In what would be his final play of the game before fouling out, Sofo channeled Michael Jordan with a flying leap from near the foul line that ended in a slam, 70 – 61. Ohayon scored from downtown with complete disregard for his defender (Diamantidis) to put Maccabi up 73 – 64 midway through the period. The home team sank a brace of threes, while Langford served up a dazzling fadeaway layup and Theo Papaloukas scored four straight for Maccabi, 80 – 77 Maccabi with just under two minutes left in the period. Batiste helped Panathinaikos close the gap, tying the score at 81 with 1:10 remaining. Blu scored on the inbounds but points from the charity stripe tied the score at 83 with :13 on the clock. Langford leaped up to catch a cross-court pass and sent up a three and a prayer from mid-air, making the shot but not before time had run out. The game went into overtime tied at 83.
Saras and Kostas Kaimakoglou enjoyed trips to the charity stripe and gave the home team an 86 – 83 lead in the first minute of the extra period. Smith scored a deuce but was answered by more free throws for the Greeks. Langford’s successful trip to the line put Maccabi back within one, 88 – 87 with 2:16 remaining. Points by Panathinaikos were answered by a Blu-tiful three (assist Langford) from the right wing that tied the score at 90. Batiste responded from inside the arc, but Blu delivered from the same spot to put Maccabi up 93 – 92 with :29 left. A free throw from Langford sealed the deal, as Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Euroleague champions Panathinaikos Athens 94 – 92 and will return to Tel Aviv with a 1 – 1 record in the best of five Euroleague Top 8 quarterfinals.
Maccabi: Langford 17 points, 4 assists, 3 steals, 3 rebounds, 1 block; Blu 16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist; Ohayon 15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals; Smith 15 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block; Hendrix 9 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block; Schortsanitis 8 points, 1 rebound; James 7 points, 5 rebounds; Papaloukas 5 points, 1 assist; Eliyahu 2 points.
Top scorers for Panathinaikos: Kaimakoglou 20 points; Batiste 16 points; Jasikevicius 15 points.