Some 10,000 fans journeyed to Yad Eliyahu last night to see Maccabi Tel Aviv sail past KRKA Nova Mesto, 98-58. The lopsided win against Nova Mesto was expected - it's a team that probably would not even survive the Israeli league - so the fans were not too excited about it all.
The loudest applause was reserved for Deon Thomas, who delayed a trip to the United States to visit his seriously injured son to be at the game last night.
David Bluthenthal was apparently punished for his brawl with Maceo Baston during practice this week and didn't see any play time.
Yotam Halperin was on the floor for nearly 13 minutes and scored 11 points. going 4 for 5 from the field. He also contributed a dazzling assist to Baston.
Clarence Gilbert was the only real talent Nova Mesto could offer. Gilbert scored 21 of his team's 58 points, including a barrage of three-pointers in the second quarter.
Maccabi was already leading 8-0 after three minutes and increased its lead to 14 at the end of the first quarter (24-10). Some sharpshooting by Gilbert and foul trouble for Baston and Thomas created some tension in the second quarter, but then Sarunas Jasikevicius found his range, delivering 7 unanswered points to bring Maccabi ahead by 15 at the half (49-34).
The second half was all Maccabi, with virtuoso passes from Jasikevicius to Baston and all kinds of fast breaks. Derrick Sharp sealed the 28-points third quarter for Tel Aviv with a shot from downtown to put the game at 75-48.
Nothing much changed in the fourth quarter. A basket by Halperin at the 38th minute gave Maccabi its biggest lead of the night, 41 points (95-54).
Maccabi will face a very different opponent next week - a resurgent Panathinaikos team that has Maccabi easily beat in their previous encounter this season (97-75), but has never defeated twice in the same season.
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