By Amy Samin
In a do-or-die game, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv hung on in a closely fought game to defeat Caja Laboral Vitoria 66-62 in Spain, improving their Top 16 record to 4-5 and keeping their hopes of advancing to the Euroleague quarterfinals alive. Smith and Logan both had fantastic games, with 20 and 16 points, respectively. Shawn James was phenomenal, with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Starters for Maccabi were Shawn James, Devin Smith, Ricky Hickman, Nik Caner-Medley and Yogev Ohayon. Smith scored first to put Maccabi up but Caja Laboral, in the person of ex-Maccabi player Maciej Lampe, quickly took the lead 6-2. Two straight layups by David Logan tied the score at 6 with four minutes left in the quarter. Points by James and a Guy Pnini three from the top of the arc gave Maccabi a, 11-6 lead with less than a minute and a half left, but the hosts were able to cut that to 11-10 as time ran out in the period.
Caja Laboral continued their scoring run in the early minutes of the second quarter, going up 14-11 after two minutes of action. A bucket from the top of the arc tied the score soon after, and James added a two handed slam in traffic, but Omar Cook responded for Caja. A bomb from beyond downtown by Logan put Maccabi up 22-17 with four minutes left on the half, but the hosts retook the lead, 31-26 with :42 on the clock. Smith scored on a drive in the lane to end the quarter with Maccabi down by three, 31-28.
Once again the hosts scored early, and Caja Laboral went up 35-28. Maccabi responded with three buckets in the paint (James, Hickman and Smith), cutting the deficit to two, 36-34 close to the halfway mark in the period. James (assist Pnini) and Smith both scored, making it 39-38 with three and a half minutes on the clock. Smith tied the score with a trey from the top of the arc, but the home team continued to keep pace, first tying the score and then retaking the lead as the quarter ended, 47-43.
Maccabi got off to a great start in the fourth quarter, going 7-0 before Caja Laboral reclaimed the lead, 53-50 with six minutes left in the game. Three from the charity stripe by Hickman retied the score and Smith dropped a clutch three from the right corner to make it 56-53 halfway through the period. Maccabi stepped up their defense, grabbing key rebounds on defense and forcing a shot clock violation. Hickman tied the score from the foul line, but Caja Laboral responded. Hickman scored on a putback to put Maccabi within one with a minute and a half left. On the next possession, James grabbed the offensive board and dished to Logan, who scored from the top of the arc to make it 64-62 Maccabi with :24 remaining. Two from the free throw line by Logan cemented the deal, and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Caja Laboral Vitoria 66-62.
Maccabi: Smith 20 points, 3 rebounds; Logan 16 points, 4 rebounds; James 11 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks; Hickman 10 points, 6 rebounds; Pnini 6 points; Ohayon 3 points.