Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel 87-73 in the Big Derby giving the Yellow & Blue a boost of confidence before a pair of crucial Euroleague games this coming week.
Ainars Bagatskis and his team were in full control throughout the contest as Victor Rudd (19pts, 3/5 from 3), Sylven Landesberg (18pts), DJ Seely (14pts) and Guy Pnini (13pts) led the way. Colton Iverson’s rebounding (9) and stellar defense while picking up 3 blocked shots offset Sonny Weems and Andrew Goudelock’s combined zero points. Alando Tucker picked up a double-double (12pts, 11rbs), Richard Howell scored 18pts while Mark Lyons added 17 points in the loss.
The two storylines that really standout in the game is the fact that Maccabi was able to win and score 87 points without Sonny Weems and Andrew Goudelock dropping a point. That certainly says a tremendous amount about the other players being able to step up to the plate a deliver, be it Seely or Pnini. Not only that, but Israelis accounted for 48 of the 87 points, a season high that should give some serious confidence to part of the team that hadn’t been able to make an impact all season long. Does Maccabi need Weems and/or Goudelock, well that’s still up in the air, but with the statistical analysis from Saturday night’s game they can certainly do without Weems as this is just another game where number 13 didn’t show up.
Maccabi showed a real team effort and the video clip of Bagatskis addressing the squad in the lockerroom after the win certainly has the feel of a group of players trying to pull together. Perhaps this is an offshoot of Thursday’s brutally disappointing loss to Red Star.
In reality, following the Red Star loss, Maccabi could’ve lost 4 games in 8 days. At least that won’t happen, but it certainly was a genuine possibility and in order for the Yellow & Blue to leave a good taste in their fans mouthes, a win in Turkey against Galatasaray would be of the highest order. But Maccabi will need to get their players healthy and fast, because without a close to full complement of players, they will certainly be in trouble no matter who the opponent.