By Amy Samin
The long and exciting season has gotten underway, and in fine style with an 83 – 68 victory for Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv over Slovenian team Krka Novo Mesto in the first round of the Adriatic League. Sofo had an excellent game, scoring 18 points; Smith and Farmar added 11 each, and Ohayon contributed 8 points and an impressive 6 steals.
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv’s head coach David Blatt said after the game: “After completing our first game, I have a feeling that the Adriatic League is going to be very competitive and strong. I can’t wait for our home games, so we can show our wonderful fans what we can do, and get their support. There are a lot of Euroleague and Eurocup teams in the Adriatic League, very high level teams, and that’s good for us.”
“We’ve gotten off to a good start in the Adriatic League in a tough away game. In this kind of a season, we’re going to have to come ready for each game, and each player will need to take his turn being the outstanding player. Today, Sofo was wonderful; obviously, in the next game it could well be someone else. Yogev Ohayon made an outstanding debut in the yellow and blue, everyone played, and many of the players made a real contribution. Regarding Theo Papaloukas (who did not suit up for the game), he had a little pain in the knee, nothing serious but I preferred to give him a little more rest. By Monday’s game against Zlatorog Laško he will be ready to play.”
Maccabi started the game with Yogev Ohayon, Devin Smith, Jordan Farmar, Lior Eliyahu and Sofoklis Schortsanitis. They got off to a great start, with points by Sofo and a steal by Ohayon; in less than 40 seconds Maccabi had taken a 5 – 0 lead. Krka got back into the game thanks to Smiljan Pavić and Jimmy Baxter, but points by Ohayon and Eliyahu gave Maccabi some breathing room. A three pointer from the left corner by Smith made it 16 – 7 after four minutes of play in the period. A flurry of substitutions resulted in more points for Maccabi, as team captain Tal Burstein (three pointer, assist David Blu) and Shawn James (dunk off an alley oop from Farmar) scored to make it 21 – 7 with three and a half minutes remaining in the first quarter. Jerome Jordan and Jure Balažič tried to keep Krka in the game, but the quarter ended with more smooth moves by Sofo in the paint and the score 25 – 13, Maccabi.
Sofo continued to impress early in the second quarter, while Smith nailed his second three of the night to make it 32 – 18 three minutes into the period. Curtis Stinson’s five straight points for Krka were joined by a layup from Jordan to put Krka within seven, 32 – 25, which led Maccabi head coach David Blatt to call a timeout, halfway through the period. Smith drained another shot from outside the arc to make it 36 – 25 with three and a half minutes left in the half. Balažič, Pavić and Stinson scored for the hosts, but layups by Blu and Ohayon ended the half with Maccabi up by ten, 42 – 32.
Ohayon dominated the early minutes of the third quarter with a pair of layups and a pair of steals. Sofo continued to do as he pleased in the paint, and James dropped in a putback that put Maccabi up 52 – 40 with four minutes left in the period. A stop and pop by Burstein was followed by another steal by Ohayon which he then dished to James for the dunk, making it 56 – 43 with a minute and a half left in the quarter. Farmar dropped in a three from the right wing and Burstein added a trey from the left corner, putting the score at 62 – 48 with less than a minute remaining. Jon Scheyer scored two from the foul line, and the quarter ended with Maccabi leading 64 – 51.
Krka came out hard at the start of the fourth quarter and pulled within nine, 64 – 55 after a minute and a half. But the boards were dominated by Milan Maćvan, whose offensive rebound led to a layup by Farmar to nip the Slovenian run in the bud. Sofo and Farmar each added layups, while Smith offered up a jumper that made it 72 – 58 halfway through the final period and caused Krka head coach Nenad Trajković to call a timeout. Maćvan scored off a fast-break pass from Farmar, then once again off an assist from Guy Pnini. With two and a half minutes left, Maccabi was up by eighteen, 78 – 60. Richard Hendrix came into the game and soon scored in the paint (assist Maćvan). Pnini scored Maccabi’s final basket in the last seconds of the game, and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv came away from their first game in the Adriatic League for the 2011 – 2012 season with an 83 – 68 victory over Krka Novo Mesto in Slovenia.
Maccabi: Schortsanitis 18 points; Smith and Farmar (3 assists) 11 points each; Ohayon 8 points, 6 steals, 3 assists; Burstein 8 points, 5 rebounds; James 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks; Eliyahu 5 points, 2 steals; Maćvan 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists; Pnini 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists; Hendrix, Blu and Scheyer 2 points each.
Novo Mesto: Top scorers were Jordan 15 points; Balažič and Curtis 9 points each; Dragić 8 points.