By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
Scottie Wilbekin registered a game-high 23 points behind 7/12 field goals in the one-sided Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 26 affair. The lead going over 20 points was cut to nine points down the stretch but without actually threatening the Israeli giant in the 30th meeting with CSKA in modern EuroLeague history.
“I think, aside from the last five minutes there, we played great defense. Aside from the last five minutes and the first four or five minutes of the game, we played great defense, individually and team defense,” summed up the Florida alumnus, “And we hit enough shots to make that work for us.”
The visitors jumped to an 11-2 lead in Menora Mivtachim Arena but failed to spoil the evening for the crowd. The Maccabi loyals also enjoyed Zvika Sherf and Pini Gershon being inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame before the game.
“We knew that they were going to come out and be aggressive and every team has its runs,” explained Keenan Evans after putting up 11 points, “So we wanted to minimize their runs and just finish. It’s a 40-minute game and we just had to finish it with a complete game.”
Danish Gabriel Lundberg produced a team-high 17 points in the losing effort for the team coached by Dimitris Itoudis. The Greek tactician returned to his usual role after being sidelined by illness in recent weeks. The VTB United League champions missed Will Clyburn (hip), Tornike Shengelia (leg), and Johannes Voigtmann (knee) on their way down to 14-10.
“Besides the second quarter that we didn’t show up defensively, we were better in the second half. We played a tie in the third quarter. And we won the fourth quarter overall. Overall it was plus 12 for us in the second half,” said Itoudis, “It was late, but at least we showed character and we played the game. We didn’t give up. Congratulations, obviously, to Maccabi.”
The Israel champions went up to 11-12 in EuroLeague with a third straight win in Tel Aviv. Yiftach Ziv (ankle), James Nunnally (ankle) were both ruled out.
“I think we had an excellent game defensively and offensively,” noted head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos, “We deserved to win. From the beginning, we had control of the game. We kept the rhythm and we played smart in the end and we deserved to win.”
Photo Credit: EuroLeagueBasketball.net