Maccabi Tel Aviv started the Top 16 the best way possible on Thursday, by thrashing Pamesa 74-89 on the road at Valencia, Spain, in Group G. Maccabi now leads the group along with Zalgiris, who also won on the road in Istanbul against Ulker. Maccabi broke open the game in the final period after dominating most of way until then. Anthony Parker led the winners with 23 points on 6 of 8 two-pointers, 3 of 3 threes and 2 of 2 free throws, adding 5 rebounds and 5 assists in an amazing individual perfomance. Sarunas Jasikevicius added 14 points, Derrick Sharp had 13 on 4 of 7 three-pointers, while Nikola Vujcic and Maceo Baston each had 10 points and 6 rebounds for Maccabi. Robert Pack had 20 points off the bench for Pamesa, while Federico Kammerichs added 15 in 19 minutes, Dejan Tomasevic posted a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Alejandro Montecchia added 10 points for the hosts.
Both teams struggled to score at the beginning of the game, as a put-back by Tal Burstein and a long two-pointer by Montecchia were the only points in first 2 minutes. Pamesa started looking for Tomasevic and Fabricio Oberto in the middle, but Maccabi's frontcourt dominated the game in the early going, with back-to-back baskets by Vujcic and Baston good for a 2-6 lead. The guests' defense was very physical, and it paid off, limiting Pamesa to 4 points in 6 minutes until Tomasevic scored in a one-on-one situation against Vujcic to cut the difference to 6-8. Parker and Montecchia exchanged three-pointers and soon after that Oberto picked up his third foul and had to go to the bench. Pamesa got the lead at 12-11 after a three by Antoine Rigaudeau, but Maccabi had the final word in the quarter, using a 1-7 run in which Jasikevicius had 5 points and Baston dunked to lead 13-18 after 10 minutes.
A three-pointer by Robert Pack seemed to bring Pamesa back into the game early in the second quarter, but Maccabi responded with a quick 0-7 run in which Baston slammed twice and Jasikevicius drilled a jumper to give the guests a 16-25 lead. Pamesa called timeout and returned to the floor with more aggressiveness, as another three by Pack and 2 free throws by Dimos Dikoudis brought the hosts within 21-25 midway through the second. Maccabi switched to zone defense, and Parker scored 4 quick points to keep the lead at 26-31. The guests used a small lineup with only Vujcic in the middle, and Pamesa took advantage of it, as Dikoudis and Kammerichs scored around the basket to make it a one-point game at 33-34. Burstein drilled a three at the other end, but Pamesa fired back with a 5-0 run highlighted by a fastbreak layup by Kammerichs that gave the hosts a 38-37 lead. Parker came to the rescue for Maccabi, however, scoring 4 points to go with 2 free throws by Gur Shelef, all good for a 40-43 Maccabi lead at halftime.
Pamesa started the second half at full speed, as 5 points by Kammerichs ignited a 11-3 opening run. Back-to-back layups by Dikoudis and Tomasevic gave Pamesa a 61-56 lead after 23 minutes. Jasikevicius fired back with a three, and Baston added 2 free throws before picking up his fourth foul and returning to the bench. Tomasevic took over without Baston on the floor, scoring 4 points in less than a minute, but Maccabi stayed in the game with a three-pointer by Parker and an easy basket by recently-signed center Bruno Sundov. They ignited a 4-10 run in which Sharp fired one from downtown to give the guests a 58-63 lead after 30 minutes.
Parker drilled a huge jumper in front of two defenders to open the final period, and Sundov became a key factor at both ends of the court. He extended Maccabi's lead to 58-67 with a layup, and also smothered Pamesa's big men on defense. Pamesa tried to play with twin point guards, Montecchia and Pack, while Maccabi played alternative defenses. Montecchia drilled a three, but Sharp answered him at the other end, igniting a 0-9 run in which Vujcic scored an easy layup and Sharp added a huge four-point play. That boosted Maccabi to a 61-76 lead with under 6 minutes to go, and now Pamesa struggled to score when it needed to most. Parker, meanwhile, made 2 foul shots and fed Vujcic for a basket to make it 64-80. The outcome was clear and both teams exchanged baskets until the final buzzer, while Maccabi had a key road victory to start the Top 16.
Thursday, March 4, 2004