Maccabi Tel Aviv crushed last-place Krka Novo Mesto, 98-58 to keep pace with Group B rival CSKA at the top of the table. Krka stayed in the game during the first half, but succumbed to Maccabi's powerful inside game in the second half. Maccabi's record improved to 7-2, while Krka slipped to 1-8. Maceo Baston dominated around the basket to the tune of 23 points, while Sarunas Jasikevicius and Anthony Parker each scored 14 and Nikola Vujcic registered 13 points and 15 rebounds. Krka was led by Clarence Gilbert's 21 points, 18 of which he scored in the first half. The only other Krka player to reach double figures was Marko Antonijevic, who had 11.
Baston, Parker and Tal Burstein hinted right at the beginning that Krka was in for a long, long night with a quick 6-0 run. Krka's first basket of the game came only after almost 4 minutes, thanks to Gilbert. But Baston, Parker and Burstein kept going, combining to score all Maccabi's points as the hosts cruised to an 18-5 lead early in the first quarter. Krka tried to hang on behind Mario Dundovic and Gilbert, who scored all 9 of Krka's points through the first 8 minutes of the game. The Slovenians found it very hard to score inside the paint as Maccabi big men NikolaVujcic and Baston controlled the boards. Maccabi's reserves got in the act during the final two minutes of the quarter, as Deon Thomas and Guy Shelef each posted baskets for a 24-10 local lead after 10 minutes.
Gilbert exploded for Krka in the second quarter and kept the guests within striking range. Gilbert followed up a Mindaugas Budzinauskas three-pointer with a triple of his own and quickly Krka was within 24-16. Gilbert singlehandedly outscored Maccabi 11-8 through the first 4 minutes of the second quarter, drilling 3 triples and sinking a jumpshot that cut Maccabi's lead to 30-24. Baston then scored 8 points on a 9-1 Maccabi run that gave the hosts control of the game again. Maccabi strengthened its defense and Jasikevicius, who had missed all of his four long-range shots until then, woke up with 5 points as Maccabi led 49-34 at halftime.
Maccabi put an end to Krka's hopes in the third quarter, nearly doubling their point total, 26-14. Krka's big gun in the first half, Gilbert, was silenced in the third quarter and only managed 3 points in the second half after scoring 18 in the first. Krka tried a bit of zone defense but nothing was good enough to stop Maccabi's outside shooting and fast breaks. For 6 minutes during this quarter krka just could not score and Maccabi made a 13-0 run. Baston and Vujcic continued to dominate, this time on the defensive end as Krka's post players Martin Bader and Rick Rickert were held scoreless. At the end of the third, Maccabi led 75-48 and Krka held little hope of a comeback.
The fourth quarter was even more lopsided, as Maccabi quickly extended its lead to 30 points. Maccabi's young guard Yotam Halperin got into the action, drilling a triple that extended the Maccabi lead to 85-51 in the 32nd minute of the game. As both benches emptied out, Krka's only answer came from Martin Mihajlovic, who made back-to-back baskets, but Parker came back with 4 free throws for the hosts. Maccabi furthered the slaughter in the final minute when Halperin dropped in 2 more free throws and then another Maccabi youngster, Avi Kazarnovski, boosted the Maccabi lead to 40 points, 98-58, when he made his first Euroleague point from the foul line.
Thursday, January 15, 2004