By Amy Samin
Although Maccabi was dominant through much of the game, especially in the third quarter, the fantastic abilities of the Italian team earned them an 89-87 victory. Shawn James was perfect from the field, scoring 22 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Lior Eliyahu contributed 19 points and 6 rebounds, and Ricky Hickman added 13 points. Although Maccabi is no longer in first place in their group, they will qualify for the Top 16 round.
Head coach David Blatt gave the nod to Shawn James, Ricky Hickman, Lior Eliyahu, Yogev Ohayon and Devin Smith. Eliyahu kicked off the scoring with two buckets, the second off a slick dish under the basket from James. A steal and layup by Hickman made it 7-3 Maccabi after two minutes. The Italians had no trouble keeping up with the fast pace set by the visitors, and soon narrowed the gap to 9-7. Three pointers from Smith and Ohayon boosted Maccabi's lead to 17-13, but Siena battled back to tie the score at 21 with a minutes left in the period. James scored from the foul line, then pulled down a key rebound on defense to end the quarter with the score 23-21.
James battled for an offensive board + putback to start the second period, and David Logan added points in the paint to make it 27-21. The hosts quickly narrowed the gap, then tied the score at 30 with six minutes on the clock. The remainder of the period saw the lead trade hands several times, with Siena taking a 39-35 lead until James (with two straight buckets) and a steal plus dunk by Hickman put Maccabi up 41-39 in the final minute. The home team responded once again, scoring five straight points in the final seconds to close out the half with a 44-41 lead.
Nine straight points by James early in the third quarter gave the lead back to Maccabi, 50-46 after two and a half minutes of action. The center also kept up his skills on defense, though Siena continued to stay close. Eliyahu scored six straight points to make it 56-50. Maccabi continued to play well through the end of the quarter, with points by Malcolm Thomas, Hickman, and Eliyahu. The final bucket of the period belonged to Ohayon, who put Maccabi up 65-59 as time ran out.
Siena quickly made it a one point game again early in the fourth quarter, though team captain Guy Pnini and Hickman both responded. Yet another putback by James made it 72-67, but it didn't take Siena long to reclaim the lead. The score remained close, with Siena leading and Maccabi tying the score, until Siena opened an 87-82 lead with :18 on the clock. Maccabi continued to fight until the end, but even a last second bucket by Smith could do no more than cut the point spread to two, and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv took their second straight Euroleague loss, 89-87 to Montepaschi Siena.
Maccabi: James 22 points, 12 rebounds; Eliyahu 19 points, 6 rebounds; Hickman 13 points; Smith and Ohayon 10 points each; Logan and Thomas 4 points each; Pnini 3 points; Shermadini 2 points.