Maccabi Tel Aviv got passed Alba Berlin 78-76 last night to finish the first half of the group stage with a perfect 5-0 record. Devin Smith paced Maccabi with 20 points, while Guy Pnini added 11.
It certainly didn't feel like it would be so close six minutes into the contest.
Maccabi blitzed Berlin at the start, forcing eight turnovers before the hosts got on the scoreboard. Berlin could barely buy a shot attempt - missing its only three in the first six minutes - let alone a basket in the early going.
Maccabi scored the first 12 points of the game, and Berlin didn't break into the scoring column until Yassin Idbihi sank a jumper with three minutes and 52 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
But once Berlin got started Maccabi cooled off. The hosts responded to Maccabi's run with a 15-4 streak of their own to pull within one point just one minute into the second period.
The hosts looked determined not to let the game get out of hand again, and by the 2:52 minute mark of the second quarter Zach Morley buried his second three-pointer of the night to knot the game at 30. Maccabi buonced back to hold a 38-35 halftime advantage.
Alba got its first lead of the game in the third quarter at the 8:26 mark after Nik Caner-Medley fouled Deon Thompson, who converted his free throws for a 41-40 advantage. The lead inflated to six before Lior Eliyahu responded with his first basket of the game. Five minutes later, David Smith made a trifecta - his fourth up to that point - to regain the lead for Maccabi at 48-47.
Maccabi would go on to lead by as much as eight but could never pull away completely. With 70 ticks left, Thompson's dunk narrowed the gap to two in favor of Maccabi, 76-74.
Smith made an off-balance driving shot with Maccabi's shot clock winding down, but Vule Avdalovic answered with a jumper from the left side with 31.2 seconds remaining. Avdalovic then stole the ball from Smith, but Heiko Schaffartzik airballed a desperation three-pointer as time ran out, allowing Maccabi to escape with the win.
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