By Eurohoops team / firstname.lastname@example.org
Giannis Sfairopoulos’ squad improved to a 13-6 record in the standings, a tie with Barcelona and CSKA Moscow for the third place of the standings, though the Israeli team has the advantage in the tiebreaker so far. For Barca, this marks their third consecutive defeat.
Scottie Wilbekin helped the hosts reach this tight victory with a clutch performance in the fourth period, while he ended the game with 18 points, three assists.
Tyler Dorsey posted a team-high performance with 19 points. As he said: “I just saw a few [shots] go in early, and my teammates were finding me coming off screens. I just caught the rhythm early, but all credit to my teammates for helping me catching my rhythm throughout the game.”
Nikola Mirotic added 22 points and ten rebounds for the Spanish side, though his efforts to keep the team on track in the final period fell short.
Barcelona threatens in the fourth, Maccabi outlasts the comeback
Barcelona started the first quarter strong and soon got in charge, to stay up 27-20 after 10′. The hosts put themselves in the lead of the game with their second-period comeback, keeping a 48-41 lead at halftime.
The balance was restored after the break, with the visiting side slowly trimming the deficit, while Maccabi remained in the lead with 65-57 after 30 minutes. Early in the fourth, the Blaugranas made it a three-point game with an 11-6 run paced by Mirotic, though Othello Hunter (8 points) and Aaron Jackson (2 points) stepped up to signal Maccabi’s reaction.
Mirotic made it a three-point game with less than two minutes to go, though Wilbekin was there to seal the victory for Maccabi.
“We are not getting into calculations.”
With Maccabi being part of a three-way tie and a contender for the home-court advantage, Maccabi coach Giannis Sfairopoulos has a simple recipe for the rest of the season: “We will not get into any calculations, we will not look at our opponents’ schedule, we will occupy our mind with that. We have to play as best as we can in every game, and our mind now is on the next game against Milan”.
For coach Pesic, the main problem of his team was turnovers: “As everybody saw, it was a high-intensity game from the beginning until the end. The PIR for both teams was 96. I think we played a good game against a good team in a good moment, with a lot of confidence. We had 17 turnovers, and that was our big problem. One reason, like always, was the opponent’s defense, but there were other reasons: Sometimes, we are too excited and want to make decisions without control instead of building our offense and waiting for a better chance. We had good shooting percentages from two-points and three-points, 22 assists and a PIR of 96, but the problem was, I think too many turnovers. We can say with respect that Maccabi deserved this victory.”
And Malcolm Delaney added: “We had three bad games and will do our best to get back into some rhythm, play how we were playing. We have to forget about this one and focus on Fenerbahce. They are playing well now. They started pretty bad, but are now in good form. We have to be prepared to go there; it will be another tough game.”