By Amy Samin
In the first Euroleague game ever played on American soil, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv defeated long-time rival Armani Milan 85-79 at United Center in Chicago. Chicago native Brian Randle and Trevor Mbakwe led Maccabi’s scorers with 15 points each. Sylven Landesberg returned to the hardwood in style with 12 points, Vitor Faverani added 11 points, Dragan Bender scored 10 points, and Jordan Farmar nearly claimed a triple double with 7 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. Devin Smith, Dagan Yavzuri, Itay Segev, and Yovel Zoosman did not play. The two teams will face off again on Sunday at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City.
During the game, a special ceremony took place honoring former Maccabi Tel Aviv players with ties to the Windy City: Tal Brody, Kenny Barlow, Anthony Parker, and Dion Thomas. Barlow was actually honored twice, as he also once played for Milan and was honored by them, as well.
Coach Goodes opened the game with Brian Randle, Jordan Farmar, Guy Pnini, Taylor Rochestie, and Trevor Mbakwe. Maccabi got off to a great start and reached 15-6 halfway through the quarter on points from Pnini and Mbakwe. Randle and Sylven Landesberg extended Maccabi’s lead, and Vitor Faverani scored at the buzzer to make it 29-11 after ten minutes.
Milan worked to get back into the game in the second quarter, closing to only 6 after five minutes. Randle sent a behind-the-back dish to Landesberg for a fast-break layup, and Rochestie and Mbakwe responded as well, ending the half with Maccabi holding a 46-40 lead.
The Italians regained the momentum as the second half started, closing to 53-49 after three minutes. Farmar and Faverani stepped up to protect Maccabi’s lead, but Milan went on a 9-0 run that led to a time out for the yellows. Former Maccabi player Milan Ma?van gave the Italians their biggest lead of the game, 61-56. A steal by Yogev Ohayon led to a three pointer from Landesberg, and Randle and Farmar also scored, but Milan tied things up 63-63 going into the final period.
Pnini and Ohayon scored from downtown to put Maccabi back on top early in the fourth quarter, 74-68. The Italians continued to chase Maccabi, but Mbakwe made it 83-74 with two minutes on the clock, and young Croatian sensation Dragan Bender brought home a slam to finish things off. In the end: Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 85, Armani Milano 79.
Randle 15 points, 6 assists; Mbakwe 15 points (6 rebounds); Landesberg 12 points; Faverani 11 points; Bender 10 points; Pnini 8 points; Farmar 7 points, 8 assists, 8 rebounds; Ohayon 4 points; Rochestie 3 points, 7 assists.