By Amy Samin
Despite suffering their first Euroleague loss of the season, 64-62 to Unicaja Malaga, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv remains in first place in their group thanks to point spreads. Shawn James led Maccabi with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Ricky Hickman and Malcolm Thomas contributed 13 points and 11 points, respectively.
Maccabi's starting lineup included Shawn James, Devin Smith, Ricky Hickman, Nik Caner-Medley and Yogev Ohayon. Maccabi opened the game with plenty of energy, but Malaga matched them shot for shot, then took an 8-4 lead. A pair of free throws by James put Maccabi within two with two and a half minutes gone, but Malaga responded. A stop and pop by Hickman made it 12-11 Maccabi, but once again the Spaniards kept the see-sawing lead in motion. A bucket and 1 by Lior Eliyahu gave the lead back to the home team with just under five minutes left in the quarter, but Malaga soon tied it up at 15. Eliyahu and Malcolm Thomas crafted a small lead for Maccabi, and the quarter ended with the score 21-17.
The second quarter started with points by Smith under the basket. Maccabi tightened up their defense and Thomas' tomahawk dunk and a stop and pop by Ohayon helped Maccabi take a 29-22 lead near the halfway mark. Malaga didn't give up, and soon the visitors had taken a one point lead, 33-32. Once again the lead changed hands with nearly every possession, with Hickman and James dominating the action for Maccabi, but the half ended with Malaga leading 38-37.
Thomas and Ohayon scored to give Maccabi a 41-38 lead early in the third period, but Malaga soon narrowed that gap. The pace of the game slowed in the middle of the period, and it was points from the charity stripe by Hickman, James and Thomas made it 47-45 Maccabi with just over three minutes left in the period. A dunk by Giorgi Shermadini was answered by a bucket from the Spaniards, and the period ended with the score tied at 49.
A dunk off an alley-oop pass and a three pointer gave Malaga a 54-49 lead two minutes into the fourth quarter. Maccabi came out of a time-out and James stepped up, scoring six straight points to put Maccabi back in the game, 57-55 with three and a half minutes left. David Logan downed a three from beyond downtown to put Maccabi within one, 59-58. Free throws by Logan and Thomas made it 62-61 Maccabi with just over a minute remaining, but Malaga retook the lead, 64-62 with 23 seconds left in the game. Maccabi was unable to take advantage of their final possession of the game, and Unicaja Malaga defeated Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 64-62, giving both the teams records of five wins and one loss in the Euroleague.
Maccabi: James 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals; Hickman 13 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals, 2 blocks; Thomas 11 points; Ohayon 7 points; Logan 6 points; Eliyahu 5 points; Smith 4 points, 10 rebounds; Shermadini 2 points.