Maccabi Tel Aviv took another step towards the Euroleague Top 8 with a 77-70 win over Bayern Munich in Germany. The Yellow & Blue moved their record to 12-13 as they currently sit in 9th place ahead of Panathinaikos and Bayern who also have identical records while Olympiacos and Baskonia sit with a record of 12-12. Scottie Wilbekin led Maccabi with 19 points and 6 assists, Tarik Black dropped 14 points and 7 rebounds, Michael Roll added 11 points and John DiBartolomeo chipped in the 10 points in under 9 minutes. Derrick Willams with 17 points and Danilo Barthel with 16 points were the Munich high scorers.
DeAndre Kane was a force throughout the first quarter with a pair of dunks as Maccabi took a 18-17 lead after ten minutes of play. Williams kept Bayern in the game but Wilbekin and Roll made sure that Maccabi went into the halftime break holding a slim 33-31 advantage after twenty minutes.
Wilbekin opened the quarter with 6 straight points while DiBartolomeo and Black dominated the outside and the inside respectively as Maccabi increased their lead to 58-47 as the game headed into the decisive frame.
Demanja Dangubic began the final quarter well for Bayern and cut the Maccabi lead to 65-63 but baskets from Roll, Black and Jeremy Pargo gave the Yellow & Blue the separation they needed to record the 77-70 win.
1) Big win for Maccabi. This was a huge, gigantic and massive win by Maccabi on the road at Bayern Munich in Germany. The Yellow & Blue needed the win in order to keep their Top 8 hopes alive and that’s what they did. With five games remaining Maccabi will need to go 4-1 which is still a tough task any way you slice against the likes of Efes, Khimki, Gran Canaria, Zalgiris and Fenerbahce. But can you imagine if Maccabi can go 4-0 and then head to Turkey for a date with Fener already knowing that your in the playoffs? Wishful thinking, but there’s still hope and most importantly belief amongst the players that they can do it. Following the game an excited DeAndre Kane said, “A lot of people counted us out but we’re back. Look out. That’s a fact.” Next up is Efes at home in yet another must win game.
2) Tarik Black was superb once again for Maccabi as the big man just keeps rolling along. With 14 points and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes Black dominated the inside and put down one dunk after the next. He said that the Maccabi defensive effort was the key to victory, “We played a bit harder and took it up a notch in the second half. Defense won this game.” He also talked about his dynamic dunks, playing the full 40 minutes and finding a way to make it to the quarterfinals, “It’s not over til the buzzer rings, this game was pretty close and that last stretch is the most important part of the game. We must continue to keep trying to do the same thing, get wins so we can reach the playoffs.”
3) Defense, defense and more defense. That was the key for Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos and his squad to take the hard earned road win. The Yellow & Blue held Bayern to just 31 points in the first half and never quite allowed them to go on a run of any sort. Sfairopoulos spoke about the defensive effort by his players in the win, “We controlled the game from our good defense. We disorganised Bayern with the way we played defense. We took them out of their game and our offense in the third period was excellent. When they came back we made good decisions and had a clear mind. We deserved to win the game. I want to congratulate all the players for their effort and how they played.”
Despite going 3/11 from beyond the arc, Wilbekin scored a team high 19 points in the win and dished out most of his 6 assists in the first half as he played facilitator for Maccabi. He also discussed the defensive effort, “It was a good game. I think our defensive game plan worked well. We were able to pull through, make some big plays when we needed them.” The guard also spoke about the bug shots he hit as the game wound down, “I was able to knock some shots down in the fourth when it really mattered. It’s a huge win for us, we came in knowing we needed it and it’s another step in the direction we want to go.”
Michael Roll and John DiBartolomeo were amazing off the bench with 11 and 10 points respectively hitting key shots in the win while also playing lockdown defense. Maccabi will continue to need solid play from them along with Alex Tyus and Jeremy Pargo who although didn’t put up big offensive numbers were huge in the win.