Partizan Belgrade hosts Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv tonight in the Serbian capital in the pivotal third game of the best-of-five Quarterfinal Playoffs series between the two clubs
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Game 3 promises to be a thriller after Maccabi (23/17 bwin) survived a tension-filled 98-78 Game 2 win that featured a total of 58 fouls committed between the teams.
Partizan (5/7 bodog) opened the series by coming back from a 21-point first-half deficit to topple Maccabi, handing the Israeli champs their first-ever playoff loss in Tel Aviv.
Maccabi’s gameplan has revolved around shutting down Partizan’s star in the paint, center Aleks Maric. Though Maric has not had a huge game yet in the series, he has scored in double figures and drawn 11 fouls in each game so far. Moreover, his presence and Maccabi’s double teams to stop him have allowed the Partizan perimeter players better looks at the basket and the big men better opportunities to rebound.
The Serbian champs took advantage in Game 1 when Dusan Kecman made 7 of 9 triples en route to a career-high 29 points and the team outrebounded Maccabi 30-36. In Game 2, Partizan made fewer than one-third of its threes and Maccabi controlled the glass as head coach Pini Gershon’s troops sailed to victory. Since starting center D’Or Fischer is Maccabi’s only player that can handle Maric without a double-team, it is safe to say that much of the strategy that so greatly affected the first two games will again play a major role in Game 3.
Maric is joined by 2.29-meter giant Slavko Vranes and power forward Lawrence Roberts on the Partizan frontline. Fischer teams with Stephane Lasme and Yaniv Green at center, while Guy Pnini and David Bluthenthal, two players whose natural position is small forward, open up the floor for the Israeli champs at power forward.
Partizan point guard Bo McCalebb, who had a big Game 1 and a quiet Game 2, matches up with the Maccabi duo of Andrew Wisniewski and Doron Perkins, the latter of whom has played his best in recent games. On the wings, Kecman and Jan Vesely tangle with February MVP Alan Anderson and Chuck Eidson. Vesely, who has distinctive physical advantages over Eidson, has yet to have a big game in the series, but if that changes in Belgrade, it could be a major boost for the hosts.
All signs point to another intense clash as this entertaining series resumes at full speed in Belgrade.
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