By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv opened the new Euroleague season in style, claiming an 85-80 win over Unicaja Malaga in Spain. Ricky Hickman scored 16 points, David Logan contributed 14 points, and Lior Eliyahu added 13. Malcolm Thomas had an impressive club debut with 6 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Coach Blatt opened the Euroleague 2012-2013 season with Yogev Ohyaon, Ricky Hickman, Nik Caner-Medley, Giorgi Shermadini and team captain Guy Pnini. The opening minutes were played at a furious pace, with hosts Malaga grabbing the lead early and hanging onto it. Pnini scored from downtown to put Maccabi on the scoreboard, 5-3, but the Spaniards soon answered in kind. Pnini delivered another trey and David Logan drove in a layup to narrow the gap to 13-12 Malaga at the halfway mark in the period. The hosts continued to score from outside the arc, but Hickman's three from the right corner (assist Logan) soon made it 16-15. After a time-out Lior Eliyahu went on a defensive rampage, with multiple steals leading to points on the fastbreak from Malcolm Thomas that tied the score at 17; points by Eliyahu gave Maccabi their first lead of the game. Sylven Landesberg added a three from the right wing to put Maccabi up 23-17, then added a dish to Thomas under the basket. The quarter ended with Maccabi leading 25-20
The second quarter opened with points by Eliyahu, while a bucket by Hickman put Maccabi's lead into double digits, 33-22. At the other end, Shawn James served up one of his trademark blocks. Logan delivered back to back treys off assists from Hickman and Ohayon to make it 39-25. James continued to shine on defense, and also added two straight buckets in the paint to extend Maccabi's lead to 43-25 near the halfway mark in the period. Malaga began playing offense again and managed to rack up eleven points before the half ended with Maccabi leading 47-36.
Hickman got the second half underway with a steal; he was fouled immediately and made both shots from the charity stripe. Malaga tightened up on defense, but Thomas showed his shot blocking skills at the other end. Points by Eliyahu made it 51-36 two minutes into the period, but Malaga continued to chip away at their deficit; after three and a half minutes of play in the quarter the score was 51-43. Hickman's three reopened Maccabi's lead, but the hosts didn't give up; with three and a half minutes left in the period it was a two point game, 56-54 Maccabi. Giorgi Shermadini added four from the foul line to give Maccabi some breathing room, 60-54. The quarter ended with Maccabi leading 65-63.
Points by Eliyahu put Maccabi back up by ten, while Thomas continued to excel on defense with rebounds and key blocks. Ohayon added two treys to make it 75-65 four minutes into the final period. Pnini added a long two, but Malaga fought their way back to 77-71 with just under four minutes remaining. The teams traded free throws until Malaga scored a three pointer to make it 81-77. Logan sank a fadeaway deuce, which was answered by points from downtown for the hosts. Hickman's two from the free throw line in the final seconds of the game ensured that Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv would walk away with an 85-80 victory over Unicaja Malaga in the first week of the 2012-2013 Euroleague season.
Maccabi: Hickman 16 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists; Logan 14 points; Eliyahu 13 points, 5 rebounds; Pnini 11 points; Shermadini 9 points; Ohayon 7 points; Thomas 6 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks; James 4 points, 4 rebounds; Landesberg 3 points; Roth 2 points.