Maccabi may have won Group B in the first round of the Euroleague season, but Siena, which finished the group in second, showed again who's king on its home court.
After beating Maccabi 89-87 in Italy last month, Siena dominated last night's game, winning 79-69.
The game drew interest not only from diehard Tel Aviv fans but also Italians visiting the Holy Land such as Anna Bottinelli of Florence and Roy S. Halstead of Rome. "Unfortunately, we have to fly out tonight," said Halstead, "but hopefully the pilot will keep us updated on the result because he may be a Maccabi Tel Aviv fan."
That pilot might not have bothered.
Three-pointers were the story of the game. Siena knocked in 10 of 25, while Maccabi hit only 4 of 18. In the first quarter alone, during which Siena took a 20-15 lead, the hosts converted as many three-point shots - four - as Maccabi took. To make matters worse for the visitors, Maccabi didn't make any of its attempts.
David Logan finally hit from behind the arc in the second quarter, as Maccabi worked on eroding Siena's lead. Ricky Hickman tied the game at 29 on a basket and free throw.
But Siena outscored Maccabi 16-7 over the final four minutes of the half to take a 45-36 lead into the break.
Siena pushed its advantage to 13 before Maccabi went on an 8-0 run, capped by a three-point play by Eliyahu. Maccabi's Israeli big man looked less timid than he had earlier in the game by driving into the paint, drawing the foul and scoring.
But Siena responded by reeling off the next five points, putting the yellows in a double-digit hole from which they never threatened in the final 10 minutes.