By Amy Samin
For the first time this season, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv faced off against a team from the very top level of the Euroleague with a galaxy of stars, and came away with a 88 – 82 win thanks in large part to the 27 points scored by Jordan Farmar, who had an excellent game in every possible way and finished the evening with an index ranking of 35. Sofo Schortsanitis and David Blu also had outstanding games, each scoring 16 points. Devin Smith also did a fantastic job, contributing 15 crucial points. The victory puts Maccabi’s Euroleague record at 2 – 1.
Maccabi led off with Devin Smith, Lior Eliyahu, Jordan Farmar, Yogev Ohayon and Sofo Schortsanitis. Farmar scored three straight layups while Fernandez and Llull scored for the Spaniards to make it 6 – 6 after two minutes. Halfway through the period two free throws by Sofo gave Maccabi a 10 – 8 lead.
A flawless assist from Theo Papaloukas led to a one handed dunk by Richard Hendrix to make it 14 – 1, but Rudy Fernandez scored an impossible three pointer to narrow the gap. David Blu scored off another Papaloukas dish with two minutes left in the period to extend Maccabi’s lead to 19 – 13. The visitors used the final minutes in the quarter to chip away at that lead, and when time ran out the score was tied at 21.
Real Madrid carried that momentum into the early minutes of the second quarter, taking a 31 – 25 lead after two minutes. Maccabi’s defense went to work and points by Farmar and Sofo reduced the deficit to 31 – 29. Maccabi retook the lead off a Blu-and-shoot trey from the left corner with six minutes left in the period. Sofo dominated in the paint at both ends of the court but Madrid managed to pull within two with twenty seconds on the clock. A special delivery from beyond downtown by Blu made it 46 – 41 going into halftime.
The third quarter began with points from Blu and Devin Smith (who benefited from a last-second dish by Ohayon). The Israeli guard went on to drain a three pointer from the left corner, which put Maccabi up by ten, 53 – 43. Sofo, who was unstoppable under the basket, continued to score at will and by halfway through the quarter Maccabi led 59 – 48. Smith and Farmar scored all the rest of the points for Maccabi in the quarter, including some great threes and a sweet layup by Farmar off a slick assist by Blu on the inbounds. At the end of three quarters, Maccabi’s lead was 74 – 62.
The Spaniards cut Maccabi’s lead back to single digits early in the fourth quarter, but for much of the period the home team was able to keep their lead hovering around ten points. Farmar continued to drive to the basket while Fernandez and Felipe Reyes responded to keep Madrid in the game. With just under three minutes remaining, the visitors cut the lead to eight, 83 – 75, then added more points from the charity stripe to narrow the gap further. With :46 on the clock the Spaniards pulled within 5, 85 – 80, but a perfectly timed steal by Farmar led to a foul which sent Farmar to the line for two more points. The home team hung on and in the end Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv emerged victorious, handing Real Madrid their first Euroleague loss of the season, 88 – 82.
Maccabi: Farmar 27 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds; Schortsanitis 16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist; Blu 16 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist; Smith 15 points, 6 rebounds; Hendrix 7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist; Ohayon 5 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal; Eliyahu 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal.
Top scorers for Real Madrid: Carroll 18 points; Reyes 15 points; Fernandez 13 points.