Maccabi Tel Aviv bosses often talk about the difference between games in the domestic league and those in European competition. The only difference between Monday's victory over Hapoel Holon and last night's 41-point (99-58) win over Asseco Prokom was that Holon put up more of a fight than the Polish visitors. It may have taken Maccabi six minutes to take the lead for the first time, but that was probably because of the psychological challenge that everyone was talking about ahead of the game.
Head coach David Blatt tried to whip his players into a frenzy ahead of last night's game; he kept on telling them they will be facing a team with five players who have NBA experience under the belts. Despite all the warnings, however, there's a good reason why Prokom looks like it will finish the first round of Euroleague games without a single win. Maccabi reached its average number of steals per game by the end of the second quarter, but even without Maccabi, the Prokom players turned over the ball six times.
Maccabi waited until the start of the second quarter before starting to extend its advantage. In fact, it took the visiting team five minutes to score its first points of the second quarter. By then, Blatt already felt confident enough to bring Derrick Sharp into the fray.
Earlier this week, Blatt's assistant, Guy Goodes, said that Maccabi was having trouble sinking baskets from outside the paint.
Right on cue, along came Prokom and gave Maccabi plenty of practice from that range, ahead of next week's far more challenging game against Caja Laboral. In all four of Maccabi's previous Euroleague games this season, the Yellows sank a total of 22 three-pointers. Last night, they scored no fewer than 15.
Maccabi's top scorer was Chuck Eidson, with an impressive 20 points, followed by Guy Pnini (13 points, including 3 from 5 outside the paint ) and Doron Perkins (13 points and 6 rebounds ). Jeremy Pargo also had a stellar evening, scoring 12 points, while Lior Eliyahu took down 9 rebounds.
The win keeps Maccabi tied for first place in Group A with Zalgiris. Maccabi remains home next week against Caja Laboral, the only team it has lost to this season.
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