By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv continued to demonstrate ability and teamwork in their second straight blowout victory in three days, this time in the Adriatic League, 94 – 56 over Helios Domžale of Slovenia. Big men Sofo Schortsanitis (23 points, 8 rebounds) and Shawn James (19 points, 2 blocks) dominated under the basket at both ends of the court. Theo Papaloukas was in top form with 8 points and 8 assists, and Keith Langford contributed a solid 12 points and 4 rebounds.
Maccabi tried out several new lineups, beginning with the starting five: Richard Hendrix, Devin Smith, Yogev Ohayon, Sofo Schortsanitis, and Keith Langford who came out with energy and determination. Hendrix kicked things off with two from the foul line and Langford drained a three to put Maccabi up 5 – 0 after one minute. Sandi Čebular responded for the visitors, but Sofo and Smith scored as well. A three pointer by Vejkoslav Petrović cut Maccabi’s lead to one, 9 – 8 after two and a half minutes. Smith converted a defensive board to a coast-to-coast layup and 1 to give Maccabi some breathing room, 12 – 8. Meanwhile, Maccabi’s defense kicked into high gear, with deflections, near steals and general all-around intensity rattling the visitors and throwing off their rhythm. Finally Tomaž Bolčina put more points on the board for Helios, but Sofo and Hendrix responded to make it 19 – 10 with four and a half minutes left in the period. Helios continued to struggle against Maccabi’s defense, and Hendrix picked Čebular’s pocket and dished to team captain Tal Burstein for the layup, 21 – 12 Maccabi with less than three and a half minutes left. Hendrix rejected a shot by Dejan Jeftić and Ohayon closed off Helios’ passing routes while Langford and Ohayon both scored, 26 – 15 Maccabi. A full court press nearly cost the visitors a half-court penalty and Burstein’s three pointer (assist Ohayon) from the right corner at the buzzer wrapped up the first quarter with Maccabi in the lead, 29 – 15.
James was busy at the start of the second quarter, with a steal, a layup, an offensive rebound and a blocked shot. David Blu relieved Miljan Marković of the ball, then fed it to Ohayon who dished to Guy Pnini for the layup, 33 – 17 Maccabi after a minute and a half of play in the period. The teams then traded three pointers, with Blu delivering from the top of the arc after an assist from Pnini. The middle of the period belonged to Sofo, who pulled down rebounds, drew fouls and scored in the paint; with four minutes left in the half the score was 41 – 30. Maccabi’s defense resumed their harassment of Helios, with steals and shot clock violations keeping the visitors from finding any kind of momentum. The offense continued to dazzle as well, with a perfect cross-court pass from Theo Papaloukas to Langford for the reverse layup. The teams went into the halftime break with Maccabi leading 49 – 33.
The home team continued to show off their defensive stops at the start of the third quarter with a block by Smith, another shot clock violation, and more turnovers for the visitors (Helios gave up the ball a total of 19 times in the game). Sofo and Papaloukas (who drained a three from the left corner, assist Langford) combined to extend Maccabi’s lead to twenty, 56 – 36, three minutes into the period. Blu sank a two point catch and shoot, and another six points were added from the charity stripe by Smith and Papaloukas, 65 – 39. Jon Scheyer came into the game for Maccabi and showed plenty of hustle on defense, but Helios managed to put together seven quick points (four of them from the charity stripe) to narrow the gap a bit until a two handed slam by Hendrix (assist James) revved up the team and the fans with two minutes left. A steal by Hendrix went to James for the layup, and James added two more from the foul line to close out the third quarter with Maccabi leading 71 – 46.
A three pointer by Darnley Gay opened the fourth quarter on a positive note for Helios, but they were unable to score again for four minutes, while James and Sofo did most of the scoring for Maccabi, including a James putback dunk following a steal by Papaloukas, 80 – 49. Jeftić tried to help his team out from downtown, but James (steal, offensive board and reverse dunk) and Sofo (points in the paint, defensive rebound and a tricky off-balance pass) continued to shine, and Scheyer contributed two free throws of his own to make it 86 – 54. James added a putback and a dunk off a perfectly thrown oop from Papaloukas, then dished to Hendrix for the game’s final points, and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv came away with a 94 – 56 victory over Helios Domžale.
Maccabi: Schortsanitis 23 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block; James 19 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks; Langford 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists; Papaloukas 8 points, 8 assists, 3 steals; Hendrix 8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals; Smith 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block; Burstein 5 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal; Blu 5 points, 2 assists, 1 steal; Ohayon 3 points, 4 assists; Pnini 2 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds; Scheyer 2 points, 2 rebounds.
Top scorers for Helios: Jeftić 17 points; Bolčina 11 points.