By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv put on an incredible show at both ends of the court on their way to an 80-79 defeat of Khimki Moscow in week 11 of the Euroleague Top 16. Their record has now improved to 6-5. Ricky Hickman was outstanding with 30 points, while Devin Smith scored 16. Shawn James also had a solid night that included 9 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocks. Nik Caner-Medley was a force of nature on defense, grabbing 7 defensive boards and making two steals and two blocks.
Starters for Maccabi were team captain Lior Eliyahu, Shawn James, Devin Smith, Yogev Ohayon and Ricky Hickman. The game was close in the early minutes, with a pair of reverse layups (Hickman and Smith) keeping Maccabi even with the visitors. But Khimki began to build up a lead, and midway through the period they led 14-8. Smith helped close the gap, and Maccabi's defense tightened up, forcing a shot clock violation on the visitors. A huge block by James resulted in a layup by the center at the other end, off the dish from Ohayon, putting Maccabi on top 17-16. Two more blocks by James and a bucket, as well as another wasted possession for the guests ended the period with Maccabi clinging to a one point lead, 19-18.
Khimki scored to reclaim the lead in the first seconds of the second quarter, but a crazy over the head, back to the basket layup by Ohayon, followed by a steal/dish by the Israeli to David Logan for the fastbreak dunk, made it 23-22 Maccabi after three minutes of play. Smith retied the score from the charity stripe, and Guy Pnini drained a three point catch and shoot to put Maccabi back on top, 28-27. Khimki soon responded, and the score waffled back and forth until with two and a half minutes remaining in the half, Khimki grabbed a 35-32 lead. Points by Hickman kept Maccabi close, but the teams went into the halftime break with Khimki leading 40-36.
Smith and Ohayon combined to put Maccabi back on top 41-40 after a minute and a half in the third quarter. Nik Caner-Medley grabbed several rebounds and nailed a block to put the stops on Khimki, but James got called for his fourth foul. Back to back buckets by Smith and a putback by Darko Planinic made it 51-44 Maccabi with just over four minutes left in the period. Maccabi continued to run on offense while holding Khimki back, with great contributions from Moran Roth on defense and points by Hickman from the top of the arc, and a huge bomb by Logan making it 60-48 Maccabi with a minute and a half left. But Khimki rediscovered the basket and narrowed the gap to 69-56 by the end of the period.
Khimki continued to battle at the start of the fourth quarter and retook the lead 63-62, but excellent defense by Caner-Medley prevented them from breaking the game open. Two huge treys by Hickman and more ferocious defense by Caner-Medley kept Maccabi on top, 72-71 with just over two minutes left in the game. Khimki took the lead, but a three from the left corner by Logan made it 75-73 Maccabi with a minute left. A one handed slam by Hickman gave Maccabi some breathing room, and a steal by Maccabi ended with free throws for Hickman, making it 79-73 with :11 on the clock. A last second three by Khimki wasn't enough as Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Khimki Moscow 80-79 in week 11 of the Euroleague Top 16.
Maccabi: Hickman 30 points; Smith 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals; James 9 points, 4 rebounds, 5 blocks; Logan 7 points; Ohayon 6 points, 6 assists; Caner-Medley 5 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks; Pnini 3 points; Roth and Planinic 2 points each.