By Amy Samin
Showing their usual dedication and professionalism, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv bounced back from Thursday’s disappointing loss to Barcelona and grabbed a much-deserved and hard-fought victory over Široki in the Adriatic League, 84 – 69, at Nokia Arena. Keith Langford and Lior Eliyahu both had outstanding games, scoring 18 points each, and Richard Hendrix contributed 17 points, including an incredible putback slammer in the closing minutes of the game.
Blatt’s starters were Devin Smith, Lior Eliyahu, Demond Mallet, Sofo Schortsanitis, and Keith Langford. Mallet kicked things off with a three pointer from the right wing, then added a dish to Eliyahu to make it 5 – 0 after a minute and a half. Široki’s first point came from Coleman Collins at the charity stripe. Sofo and Smith combined for five and a classic “guava” shot by Eliyahu made it 12 – 5 halfway through the period. Jakov Vladović downed a three that put the visitors back into the game, but Langford, Theo Papaloukas and Sofo all scored to give Maccabi some breathing room, 17 – 8 with just under two and a half minutes left on the clock. Široki’s tough defense under the basket hindered Maccabi’s efforts to break open a bigger lead, but team captain Tal Burstein scored on a fastbreak off an assist from Papaloukas, and Richard Hendrix added a dunk (assist Burstein) to put Maccabi up 21 – 11 with 43 seconds remaining. Boris Barac and Vladović both scored for the visitors to end the period with Maccabi leading 21 – 16.
The early minutes of the second quarter featured the versatility of Hendrix, who recovered a steal and dished to Eliyahu for a bucket, pulled down a defensive board, then dropped a smooth jumper from the top of the key, 25 – 16 Maccabi. Collins and his teammates fought to stay close, but Maccabi’s defense didn’t allow easy shots and the visitors ended up shooting around the basket rather than into it. Eliyahu scored twice to keep the lead comfortable, 29 – 21 midway through the period, but shortly after, Dalibor Peršić and Fran Pilepić whittled the lead down to three, 29 – 26. Hendrix and Smith scored and were answered by Peršić, who made it 33 – 28 with two minutes until halftime. Points in the paint by Smith (assist Ohayon) were matched and raised by Collins, Pilepić and Ivan Ramljac. Hendrix slammed in a dunk at the buzzer off an alley-oop from Ohayon to send the teams into the break with Maccabi leading 37 – 34.
Hendrix opened the second half the way he’d ended the first, with a dunk, this time off an assist from Mallet. Langford and Mallet also scored, and Collins did his best to keep Široki in the game; after three and a half minutes the score was 45 – 42. Langford went on a one-man 9 – 0 run, that included a stop-and-pop swish off a steal/pass from Eliyahu, and a trey from the right corner (assist Eliyahu). With just over four minutes left in the period Maccabi’s lead had grown to 54 – 42. Langford soon added a three point catch-and-shoot (assist Sofo) on the right wing, but Vladović and Pilepić scored to keep the visitors close. The quarter ended with points from the foul line by Hendrix, making it 61 – 50, Maccabi.
Eliyahu dominated the early minutes of the fourth quarter, scoring off an assist from Sofo and two from Papaloukas to make it 69 – 55 after four minutes. Burstein added a stop-and-pop and Jon Scheyer drained a smooth three from outside the arc to make it 74 – 61 with three minutes left in the game. Široki managed to add a few more points to the scoreboard, but an enormous follow slam by Hendrix, followed by more points from downtown by Scheyer wrapped up another Adriatic League win for Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, this time over Široki by a score of 84 – 69.
Maccabi: Langford 18 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal; Eliyahu 18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals; Hendrix 17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 1 assist; Smith 7 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block; Scheyer 6 points, 2 steals, 1 assist; Burstein 6 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound; Mallet 5 points, 2 assists, 1 steal; Schortsanitis 4 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 block; Papaloukas 2 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound; James 1 point, 2 rebounds; Ohayon 2 assists, 1 steal; Pnini 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal;
Top scorers for Široki: Collins 13 points; Pilepić 12 points; Ramljac 11 points.