By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv finished in first place in their group following a 78-62 victory over Alba Berlin in the final game of the regular season. Ricky Hickman led Maccabi's scorers with 17 points, while David Logan added 15, Yogev Ohayon 14, and Sylven Landesberg, who was named MVP, contributed 13 points and a lot of tenacity. A brief candle-lighting ceremony marking the Chanukah holiday was held before the tip off.
Coach Blatt gave the nod to starters Ricky Hickman, Nik Caner-Medley, Shawn James, team captain Lior Eliyahu, and Yogev Ohayon. The game got off to an explosive start, as Maccabi jumped to a 7-2 lead off points by Hickman (from the top of the arc and a steal/dunk combo) and a layup by Ohayon. Caner-Medley played full out on offense and defense, but was injured trying to save a loose ball and left the court for treatment. Two assists by the captain (to Ohayon and Malcolm Thomas) gave Maccabi an 11-6 lead just past the halfway mark. Sylven Landesberg made it 16-13 with under two minutes left in the period. Hickman racked up several steals, and Landesberg scored off a dime from James, 18-13. The period ended with a trey and a fadeaway jumper by David Logan that made it 23-13.
The second quarter got underway with a block by Thomas, who then threaded the needle to James in the paint for the bucket. James scored again and added another block to his stats, and Thomas slammed in a reverse dunk and 1 that put Maccabi up 30-15 after three minutes of action. Ohayon scored two straight buckets (assists Logan and Hickman) that put Maccabi's lead at twenty, 35-15. Maccabi played excellent defense throughout the period, with multiple steals that led to dunks by Thomas and Logan (who executed a slick backwards rim hanger), 43-21 Maccabi with just under a minute and a half remaining in the half. Points from downtown and a buzzer-beating layup by Hickman sent the teams into the break with the home team leading 48-24.
Alba came out swinging in the third quarter and narrowed the gap to 50-34. A baseline drive by James and three pointer by Logan off a dish from Ohayon helped, but the visitors didn't give up, and just past the halfway mark the score was 55-40. Alba played solid defense and continued to cut away at Maccabi's lead until points by Landesberg made it 57-43 with just under three minutes remaining. Berlin didn't let up, taking advantage of second chances on offense to end the quarter with the score 60-49.
Logan inaugurated the fourth quarter with a trey on the right wing, but Berlin kept on coming, making it an eight point game, 63-55 after three minutes. A steal and one handed slam by Ohayon woke Maccabi up, and a diving putback and 1 by Landesberg set the score at 68-55 midway through the period. A huge three by Hickman and points by Eliyahu and James gave Maccabi breathing room. Logan's three wrapped things up for the home team, and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv walked away with a 78-62 win over Alba Berlin, securing first place in their group going into the Top 16.
Maccabi: Hickman 17 points, 5 assists, 3 steals; Logan 15 points, 2 steals; Ohayon 14 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds; Landesberg 13 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal; James 10 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals; Thomas 8 points, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 1 assist; Eliyahu 1 point, 4 rebounds, 3 assists.