Basketball / Euroleague / Maccabi Tel Aviv Back in Business

Claims road win in Vitoria to stay in playoff picture.

Maccabi tamed host Caja Laboral Vitoria 66-62 in a crucial road win to get back into the Euroleague playoff picture.

David Logan aced a three-pointer with 24.7 ticks left on the clock to give Maccabi its final lead, and then iced the game with two free throws with 11 seconds left. Maccabi, which claimed its second consecutive victory against a top Group F rival and rose to 4-5, avenged its 71-70 home loss to Vitoria in early January.

The lone bright spot for Maccabi for the first three quarters was Devin Smith, who led all scorers with 20 points, in an offensively weak outing for both teams. Maccabi’s previous lowest output was 67 in a loss to Khimki Moscow.

The lead went back and forth for the vast majority of the game. Vitoria looked to pull away late in the third quarter, but Maccabi used a 7-0 run that spanned the final break to get back in the lead early in the fourth quarter, highlighted by Shawn James’ basket-and-one at 50-47.

Laboral turned the tables with consecutive three-pointers by Fernando San Emeterio and Nemanja Bjelica, but Smith made an important block on Vitoria’s next possession to stop the hosts’ momentum. Maccabi returned the favor with three free throws by Hickman and a trifecta by Smith, but Laboral answered with yet another game-tying three, this time by Thomas Heurtel, just as Guy Pnini fouled Lampe, allowing Vitoria to get the ball back.

Lampe cashed in with a basket, yet Hickman responded by drawing a foul and tying the game from the free-throw line. A minute later, Lampe made it 60-58 with 3:01 to go.

Things looked grim for Maccabi as Laboral had the lead and the ball with 49 seconds left, but Pnini’s rebound was followed by Logan’s heroics to earn the victory.

AFP