By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Montenegrin champions Budućnost VOLI 82 – 60 and advanced to the Final of the 2012 Adriatic League Final Four, where they will face Cedevita Zagreb on Monday at 9 p.m. Lior Eliyahu led all scorers with 18 points and 9 rebounds, while Keith Langford contributed 17 points. Crowd favorite David Blu added 13 points (2 of 2 from 2; 3 of 4 from 3) and Devin Smith scored 9.
Maccabi’s starters were Richard Hendrix, Devin Smith, Lior Eliyahu, Yogev Ohayon and Keith Langford. In spite of a quick reverse layup by Eliyahu in the opening seconds of the game, the pace crawled in the early minutes of the quarter. At the halfway mark Budućnost led 6 – 4. The score remained close for the next few minutes, with Ohayon and Eliyahu scoring for Maccabi. With just under two minutes left in the period, David Blu sank a catch and shoot from the left corner (assist Smith) to put Maccabi up 13 – 10, then went on to score twice more to end the period with Maccabi up 17 – 12.
The second quarter opened with yet more points from Blu, who sank a trey from the right corner. Smith added a baseline drive and a putback to make it 24 – 12, while Maccabi’s defense choked off the visitors’ offense with blocks and forced shot clock violations. A drive by Langford in the lane made it 28 – 16 midway through the period. With three and a half minutes left in the half Maccabi went on a scoring spree that included points by Eliyahu (who scored off a slick dish from Guy Pnini), Smith, Langford and Shawn James that brought the home team’s lead to twenty, 38 – 18. Budućnost scraped together two points from the charity stripe, but a dunk by Hendrix and a drive to the basket by Langford wrapped up the quarter with Maccabi leading 42 – 20.
The third quarter got underway with points by Hendrix and a block by Smith. Vladimir Mihailovic made a valiant effort to get Budućnost back in the game, but Eliyahu and Langford combined for seven points (including a catch and shoot from downtown by the latter) that made it 51 – 23 after three minutes. Blu and Langford each scored twice more, including a dazzling spin and in by Blu on the baseline (assist Hendrix), 60 – 29 with three and a half left in the period. James took control of the defensive boards, pulling down three rebounds in less than a minute, but Budućnost eventually put together a string of buckets, closing the gap to 60 – 36 with less than one minute on the clock. A fadeaway jumper at the buzzer by Theo Papaloukas ended the period with Maccabi leading 64 – 38.
Maccabi seemed to let up somewhat on the intensity in the final period, but Pnini and Eliyahu scored to make it 71 – 45 after almost five minutes. Team captain Tal Burstein sank a three pointer (assist Pnini) to make it a thirty point game, 78 – 48 with three and a half minutes remaining. Budućnost continued to fight hard in the closing minutes of the game, while Burstein scored once more and Hendrix added a drive in the lane, and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Budućnost VOLI in the 2012 Adriatic League semi-final game by the score of 82 – 60. Maccabi will face the victor of the other semi-final game, Cedevita Zagreb, in the Final on Monday night at 9:00 p.m. at Nokia Arena.
Maccabi: Eliyahu 18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block; Langford 17 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal; Blu 13 points, 1 rebound; Smith 9 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks; Hendrix 6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 assist, 1 steal; Papaloukas 6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal; Burstein 5 points, 1 assist, 1 block; James 3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal; Pnini 3 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists; Ohayon 2 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds; Schortsanitis 3 rebounds, 3 assists.
Top scorers for Budućnost: Dubljevic 17 points; Vitkovac 11 points.