By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv put themselves back in the Top 16 picture with a thrilling 91-73 victory over Turkish team Fenerbahce Ulker at Nokia Arena. Ricky Hickman led all scorers with 24 points, Shawn James contributed 22 points and Devin Smith added 11 points. Moran Roth was vital to the win, with 8 points at crucial junctures in the game and 6 assists. Prior to the game, The club held a brief ceremony honoring two of the greats of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Avraham Schneor and Tanhum Cohen-Mintz, who were inducted into the club's hall of fame.
Starters for Maccabi were team captain Lior Eliyahu, Shawn James, Devin Smith, Yogev Ohayon and Ricky Hickman. Eliyahu scored on the team's first possession, but the visitors quickly tied things up. The score seesawed, with a layup and a slam by Hickman, but Fenerbahce took a 9-6 lead after a few minutes of play. James responded with a dunk, and Smith delivered a bucket from the top of the arc to put Maccabi back on top, 11-9. James went on a roll, scoring a hook shot and a dunk before rejecting a bucket at the other end, while Smith added a jumper in the paint to make it 18-13, Maccabi. Fenerbahce came within one, but Maccabi reopened their lead to 23-17 (points by Darko Planinic and Logan) until a buzzer beating Hail Mary by the visitors ended the quarter with the score 23-21.
The second quarter got off to a slow start, though a huge block by Malcolm Thomas woke up the fans. Fenerbahce took the lead after a couple of minutes, and Maccabi did not score until nearly four minutes had passed. James and Smith combined to put Maccabi back on top, 27-26. Maccabi continued to play tough defense, and Eliyahu and Ohayon scored to make it 31-26, but the visitors didn't give up, and the period ended with the teams tied at 36.
Maccabi came out wth guns blazing following the halftime break, with the defense holding Fenerbahce scoreless while Ohayon, Smith and Hickman (off a steal by Eliyahu) all scored to make it 42-36 after three minutes of action. James and Sylven Landesberg kept the momentum on Maccabi's side, making it 49-41 with two and a half minutes left in the period. Thomas scored off a dish from Moran Roth, who went on to add points of his own. The period ended with the score 53-48.
Roth continued to shine in the first half of the final quarter, scoring twice from downtown and serving up a dish to James. Landesberg pulled down rebounds and corralled loose balls, and Hickman added 8 straight points, while a bucket and one by Smith made it 72-59 at the halfway mark. Maccabi kept up the energy and intensity in the second half of the fourth period, with points from Hickman and Landesberg making it a fifteen point game with three and a half minutes remaining, 78-63. James added a dunk off a dime from Roth and followed it with another bucket and one. Hickman added a rim hanger on a fastbreak dish from Smith, and Landesberg put the icing on the cake with a huge basket from the left corner. Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv walked away with a 91-73 win over Fenerbahce Ulker, their first victory in the Top 16.
Maccabi: Hickman 24 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists; James 22 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block; Smith 11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists; Roth 8 points, 6 assists; Landesberg 8 points, 4 rebounds; Eliyahu 5 points, 3 rebounds; Ohayon and Planinic 4 points each; Logan 3 points; Thomas 2 points.