By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv won their first home Euroleague game of the 2012-2013 season, defeating Montepaschi Siena in dramatic fashion, 70-68 off a basket by game MVP Ricky Hickman (19 points) with four seconds on the clock. Malcolm Thomas also had an excellent game with a double double, 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Maccabi's starters were Yogev Ohayon, Ricky Hickman, Guy Pnini, Nik Caner-Medley, and Giorgi Shermadini. Siena looked sharp at the start of the quarter, jumping to a 6-2 lead after less than three minutes. A three by team captain Pnini put Maccabi back in the game, but once again Siena built a lead while Maccabi had trouble finding the basket. A mid-range jumper by Shermadini made it 12-8 halfway through the period. Once again Siena increased their advantage, and with less than two minutes left in the period they led 17-10. Maccabi's flow on offense improved once Devin Smith entered the game, but the shots still refused to fall for the hosts with the exception of a putback by Malcolm Thomas, while Siena romped to 20-14 off a three at the buzzer to end the quarter.
The second period got off to a good start with points by Thomas and Lior Eliyahu under the basket, but Siena took advantage of their second chance shots to go up 25-18 after a minute and a half. Ohayon managed to muscle his way to a layup, but for the most part Siena's defense was just too tough in the key. Midway through the quarter Siena led 27-20, but following a time out David Logan delivered a stop and pop from the right wing to narrow the gap, 29-23 with just under four minutes left in the half. Eliyahu slammed in a dunk off a dime from Hickman, and added a putback soon after. A layup by Hickman made it 33-29 with less than a minute left. Hickman grabbed a key rebound on defense and was fouled; his two free throws made it 33-31, Siena at the end of the period.
The second half got a good start from Thomas, who scored twice to make it 37-35 after three minutes of play. Smith added a trey from the left wing soon after, but Siena responded in kind to preserve their lead. Thomas continued to play well, scoring again and grabbing a key defensive board, while Smith added a steal plus coast to coast layup. Hickman followed that with a reverse layup that gave Maccabi the lead, 44-43 just past the five minute mark. Siena responded on the next possession, but Hickman added a layup that made it 47-46 Maccabi with just over three minutes remaining in the period. Several points from the foul line were followed by a monster dunk by Thomas off the dime by Moran Roth, making it 51-48 with just under a minute left. Siena closed the gap with free throws, but a drive in the lane by Pnini resulted in points at the buzzer, and the period ended with Maccabi up 53-52.
The early minutes of fourth quarter saw the lead change hands several times, with a three by Hickman in the right corner making it 62-60, Maccabi with just under five minutes remaining in the game. Siena retook the lead less than a minute later, and expanded it to 68-62 with just over two minutes left. Maccabi cut that to 68-64 off points by Logan, and Eliyahu and Hickman tied the score at 68 with :37 on the clock. Hickman scored the go-ahead bucket with :04 left, and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv came away with their second win of the Euroleague season, 70-68 over Montepaschi Siena.
David Blatt: "I told you it would be a tough game, and it was. Some games, you need to know how to find the way to get the win. We had a hard time with that up until the end, when we put the stops on Siena and scored the money shots at the right moment. I salute Siena, they did a great job. Our guys did a great job coming back from a six point deficit with less than a minute and a half left. Our amazing fans also played a big part in our win."
Maccabi: Hickman 19 points, 3 assists; Thomas 14 points, 11 rebounds; Eliyahu 11 points, 11 rebounds; Smith 7 points, 7 rebounds; Logan 5 points, 4 rebounds; Pnini 5 points, 4 rebounds; Ohayon and Shermadini 4 points each; Caner-Medley 1 point.