Maccabi Tel Aviv upended Valencia 85-82 in Spain to move their Euroleague record to 17-8 as the Yellow & Blue remained in 5th place. Scottie Wilbekin and Tyler Dorsey combined for 31 points in the second half to wipe out a 48-35 Valencia advantage while each guard hit huge 3-pointers down the stretch to snatch the 3-point win.
Wilbekin led Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad with 20 points, Dorsey added 19 points, Othello Hunter came a rebound short of a double double with 12 points and 9 boards while Elijah Bryant scored 11 points and Deni Avdija chipped in with 10 points in the victory. Bojan Dubljevic scored all of his 19 points for Valencia in the second half while Maurice Ndour scored 12 points in the defeat.
1) What else can you say about Tyler Dorsey? The guard came up huge for the Yellow & Blue hitting massive shots down the stretch including two triples in money time. Dorsey has been terrific this past month both in the Euroleague and in the domestic competition and is now averaging 9.9 points per game in continental play. “They were pretty big and they left me open,” said Dorsey. “I practice those shots all the time and I would be disappointed if I didn’t make them. It’s a game of runs and we made the last one at the end.”
2) What else can you say about Scottie Wilbekin? The guard who just signed a 3 year extension with Maccabi is worth his weight in gold. Big shot after big shot, it seems that he just doesn’t miss. With 6 triples against Valencia Wilbekin retook the lead in 3-pointers made with 79, just one ahead of Shane Larkin who was out injured for EFES’s win over Bayern Munich. Shooting at a 44% clip from beyond the arc, the Florida product is just lethal from deep. But its not just the volume of triples that he is making it’s also the time and place he’s drilling them, how about with 1:53 left in the game to give Maccabi a 78-77 lead? Not bad. What was the key? “Hitting shots,” said Wilbekin. “We were getting good shots for most of the game but in the first half they weren’t going in. In the 3rd quarter they kept going in and we fought harder on defense down the stretch.”
3) Maccabi is now heading into the stretch run as they look for home court advantage in the quarterfinals. Every win will be big with only 10 games left and they started on the right foot against a very tough playoff bound Valencia club. “The win was pretty big,” explained Dorsey. “They have been playing really well and they are a really good team. That’s why they are in the playoffs and they are trying to stay in the playoffs. It was a big win coming out of the break and we have to continue it.” Scottie Wilbekin agreed that not only was the win important but also each one of the remaining contests will be critical for the Yellow & Blue, “It’s big a lot of teams will see here, it’s a tough place to play. Every game is important now and we have out sights on the next nine games because that’s all that matters now.”
Deni Avdija once again was on center stage for Maccabi as he notched double digits for the third straight game, all of which were wins. The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery prospect just keeps moving the needle isn the right direction as every NBA team is watching his every move. He continues to mature in front go our very eyes. Valencia isn’t an easy place to play with the fans on top of the action but that didn’t bother Avdija who played 18 minutes, scored 10 points and hit two shots from 3-point land in the victory. “I am doing everything that I can do and it’s great to be a part of these wins,” Avdija said. “I know that I can continue to improve and I am working hard to improve. I do what the coach needs me to do and I do what I can to help the club win. But it also depends on how the game unfolds and the dynamics of the game.” Avdija also commented as to what the key was in his eyes for the win and how important it was for the club, “Our defense really gave us the chance to get back into the game. Every win is important and every road win is tough. All of the teams are quality squads and I think this as huge for us.”