By Amy Samin
Six players finished the game in double figures as Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated last-place Zlatorog Lasko 87 – 51. Theo Papaloukas was named game MVP, finishing with 13 points, 6 assists, and 5 steals. David Blu led all scorers with 16 points, and Jon Scheyer had a solid game with 10 points and 3 steals. Demond Mallet contributed 4 steals, 3 assists, 2 points and a rebound in his first game with the team.
Blatt’s starters were team captain Tal Burstein, newly acquired Demond Mallet, David Blu, Sofo Schortsanitis, and Lior Eliyahu. Sofo scored the first points of the game with a putback dunk, but Zlatorog went on a scoring run that put the visitors up 9 – 2 after four minutes. Sofo slammed in another putback to stop the run, but no one else scored for Maccabi until two and a half minutes later when Blu battled his way to a layup and 1 to cut the Slovenians’ lead to 14 – 7 with three minutes left in the period. Theo Papaloukas and Jon Scheyer came into the game with an abundance of defensive intensity, and Scheyer added Maccabi’s first three pointer from the right corner (assist Devin Smith) to make it 14 – 11. Shawn James was also excellent on defense, taking his first steal of the game from Grega Mali. Papaloukas scored in the paint and Eliyahu added one of his patented one-handed shots to give Maccabi the lead, 15 – 14 with a minute on the clock in the period. James added a dunk (assist Eliyahu), as did Eliyahu off a slick drive in the paint turned assist by Papaloukas to end the quarter with Maccabi leading 19 – 15.
The second quarter got underway with points by Alen Omić for the visitors, but Papaloukas was fouled as he sank an off-balance layup and the point after made it 22 – 17 Maccabi after a minute and a half of play in the period. Scheyer displayed his usual intensity on defense, grabbing what would be the first of three steals on the night before flying down court for the layup. A fake shot turned pass from Sofo resulted in points for Eliyahu, and Mallet sank his first points for Maccabi off a dish from Eliyahu on the fast break to make it 28 – 17, four minutes into the period. Scheyer and Sofo closed the trap on the Slovenians, who struggled to find the basket through the wall of defenders. Eliyahu rejected Jaka Brodnik and Burstein tossed a no-look pass to Pnini in the right corner for the trey, 35 – 20 Maccabi with four and a half minutes left in the half. Zlatorog scored their first points in two minutes, but Blu answered under Maccabi’s basket off a dime from Sofo. Papaloukas was fouled after picking Aleksandar Vladimirov Gruev’s pocket, and added two more points from the charity stripe. A dunk by James (assist Papa) finished the quarter with Maccabi leading 41 – 25, having kept the visitors to only 10 points in the period and having stolen the ball 10 times in the half.
Eliyahu scored twice at the start of the third quarter, while James dominated under the basket on both ends of the court, with dunks, blocks and rebounds to put Maccabi up 49 – 27 after four and a half minutes in the period. Blu scored in the paint off a bullet of a pass from Mallet, then drained a classic Blu-and-shoot from the top of the arc (assist Mallet) to make it 54 – 28. Sofo added his version of a three point shot (bucket and 1), and Zlatorog also scored some points from the foul line. Smith dropped a smooth-as-silk three (assist Mallet) to make it 61 – 34, then dished to Papaloukas in the left corner for the three. Papa followed that bucket with a steal + layup with a point after to put Maccabi’s lead over thirty, 67 – 36 with seconds remaining in the period. Blu scored from downtown (assist Pnini) at the buzzer to make it 70 – 36.
Three pointers from Pnini and Blu kicked off the fourth quarter and led Zlatorog’s coach to call a time out. Following the huddle the visitors were able to score from the foul line and in the paint, but James went to work with an assist to Pnini for the layup, followed by a block and a rebound. Scheyer grabbed another steal but Maccabi couldn’t convert it to points. The Slovenians scored a few more points but Scheyer sank another three from the corner (assist James) to make it 81 – 44 Maccabi near the halfway mark in the period. Gruev scored for the visitors, but yet another steal (this time by Pnini) once again rattled the Slovenians’ offense. James scored twice and rejected two more shots by the visitors, and Scheyer’s steal + coast to coast layup wrapped things up as Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Zlatorog Lasko 87 – 51.
Maccabi: Blu 16 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist; Papaloukas 13 points, 6 assists, 5 steals, 2 rebounds; James 13 points, 10 rebounds, 7 blocks, 4 steals, 2 assists; Eliyahu 12 points, 3 rebounds,3 assists, 1 block; Scheyer 10 points, 3 steals, 1 rebound; Schortsanitis 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block; Pnini 8 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal; Smith 3 points, 3 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 block; Mallet 2 points, 4 steals, 3 assists, 1 rebound.
Top Scorers for Zlatorog Laško: Omić 10 points; Lapornik 9 points; Brodnik 8 points.