By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
Scottie Wilbekin scored eight out of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter and Othello Hunter posted a double-double of 14 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, to lead Maccabi Tel Aviv to a 69 – 63 win over Olimpia Milano at home. The “Yellows” completed the double-game week with two wins, following also Tuesday’s victory over Barcelona, and improved to 14 – 6.
In the meantime, Milano dropped to 10-10 after a 0/2 score in Rounds 19 (a loss to Anadolu Efes) and 20. Keifer Sykes (11 points) and Nemanja Nedovic (10) scored in double figures for the losing squad.
“Me? I changed shoes,” Wilbekin joked in his post-game interview when asked about his performance. “We did a great job and our fans gave us energy and we found ourselves in the second half.”
Wilbekin hit two triples at the beginning of the fourth period to help his team grab a nine-point lead, 60 – 51 and later dropped a key floater for the 68 – 63 with 2:17 left to play. It was the last field goal of the game but the hosts didn’t need anything else since their opponents failed to connect to the basket in the remaining plays.
Milano, that led 31 – 32 at halftime, was handed a small “gift” to stay alive after Hunter went 0/2 from the free-throw line with the score 68 – 63 and 19 seconds remaining. But the “Red Shoes” were unable to find a decent shot and Rodriguez’s desperate corner 3-point attempt under pressure was off the mark. Maccabi had that in its pocket.
“I think after the first period we played much better,” Maccabi coach Giannis Sfairopoulos said. “We won, if you see the score, all the periods after the first one. We allowed less points than they scored in the first period, and in offense, we were better. We scored some transition points, some shots from outside, we improved our percentages and I think we deserved to win.”
Something to keep for Milano despite the loss
Milano didn’t leave Tel Aviv with a win in its bags, however coach Ettore Messina said that he really appreciated certain aspects of his player’s performance. “My congratulations to Maccabi. They played hard and they deserved to win. I’m very, very, proud of the effort and the competitiveness my team put on the floor,” Messina said. “I think our defense was pretty good throughout the whole game. They forced us some tough, contested shots. Their switch is very good, we already knew, and their physicality and aggressiveness defensively gave us a hard time all game long. We don’t have the athleticism to go one-on-one, but it’s something we work on and we’ll try to fix for the future.”
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball