By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv dropped a tough 74 – 71 loss to Partizan mt:s Belgrade in Serbia Thursday night, and their record in the Euroleague likewise dropped to 5 – 2, which is still good enough to qualify for the Top 16 playoff round. Devin Smith led all scorers for Maccabi with 12 points; Jordan Farmar scored 11 in his farewell game, and Sofo Schortsanitis contributed 10 points. Milan Mačvan, the young Serbian center currently on loan to Partizan from Maccabi, demonstrated his multi-faceted abilities and finished with 22 points (including 3 three pointers) and 8 rebounds.
Maccabi’s head coach David Blatt elected to lead off with Sofo Schortsanitis, Yogev Ohayon, Jordan Farmar, David Blu and Devin Smith, but it was Partizan’s Nikola Pekovic and Milan Mačvan who dominated the paint at both ends of the court, taking the home team to a 6 – 3 lead after two minutes. Smith added another two points to his trey, and Farmar scored from the top of the key to pull Maccabi within one, 8 – 7 after four and a half minutes. Mačvan and Richard Hendrix traded baskets, but a three from Petar Bozic cracked open a window for the Serbians, who quickly climbed through and jumped to a 17 – 9 lead with three and a half minutes left in the period. Points by Farmar and Lior Eliyahu cut the deficit to four, but Partizan held on to finish the quarter with a seven point lead, 24 – 17.
Points by Dusan Kecman and Vladimir Lucic extended the home team’s lead into double digits early in the second quarter, 32 – 19. Points from the foul line by Blu and a stop-and-pop by Keith Langford cut that back down to nine, but Mačvan continued to show his skills, keeping the Serbian team up by a healthy margin. Sofo (who had 8 points in the quarter), Farmar and Ohayon battled for points and Maccabi’s defense (including a steal by Sofo) helped in the effort to get the team from Tel Aviv back in the game, keeping the home team to only 15 points in the period. When the teams went into the halftime break, Maccabi trailed by only two: 39 – 37.
Maccabi’s defense continued to shine as the third quarter got underway, forcing a shot clock violation on Partizan and holding them scoreless for two minutes, until points by Pekovic broke the ice. They were followed by two baskets in the paint for the hosts, making it 45 – 37 and leading Coach Blatt to call for a time out. A layup by Blu and more points by Smith brought Maccabi within four, 45 – 41 just past the halfway mark, but Mačvan responded with points from downtown. Four straight points by team captain Tal Burstein made it 48 – 45 with three minutes left in the period, but points from Kecman and Pekovic kept Partizan at a healthy distance and the quarter ended with the home team leading 54 – 48.
Points from Eliyahu on the inbounds at the start of the final period put Maccabi within four, 54 – 50, but Lucic responded with a dunk. Likewise, a layup by Guy Pnini was answered by points from Kecman. The pattern was broken by a Blu-esque three from the suburbs by Mačvan that made it 61 – 52 four minutes into the quarter. Five points by Langford in the middle of the period brought Maccabi within four, 65 – 61 with less than two minutes remaining, but Mačvan once again delivered from beyond the arc to give Partizan some breathing room. Points by Smith (his second three pointer of the night), Hendrix, and Pnini (with a clutch three point catch-and-shoot from the right side) made it a two point game with twenty seconds on the clock, 70 – 68. Maccabi was charged with two straight unsportsmanlike fouls, but the Serbians only scraped two points from the calls; the score was 72 – 68 with twelve seconds left. Lucic scored twice from the charity stripe and last second points by Farmar (assist Hendrix) weren’t enough as Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv fell to Partizan mt:s Belgrade 74 – 71.
Maccabi: Smith 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist; Farmar 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal; Schortsanitis 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block; Langford 7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist; Eliyahu 6 points, 1 rebound; Hendrix 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist, 1 block; Pnini 5 points, 2 rebounds; Burstein 5 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal; Ohayon 4 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal; Blu 4 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal; Papaloukas 2 points, 2 rebounds.
Top scorers for Partizan: Mačvan 22 points, 8 rebounds; Pekovic 17 points; Lucic 15 points.