Maccabi Tel Aviv needed overtime to defeat Red Star Belgrade 84-69 and win their first Euroleague game of the season. The Yellow & Blue had been up by as many as 15 points but frittered away the advantage in the second half as the visitor’s forced the extra period with the score knotted up at 67-67. But a 17-2 overtime session led by Scottie Wilbekin helped Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad to the tough victory.
Wilbekin scored a team high 16 points, Omri Casspi added 15 points and 8 rebounds, Nate Wolters chipped in with 15 points while Yovel Zoosman scored 8 points, grabbed 6 boards, picked up 4 assists and recorded 4 assists in the victory. Stratos Perperologou led Red Star with 18 points and Ognjen Dobric scored 10 points in the loss.
Prior to the start of the game a ceremony took place in honor of Maccabi Tel Aviv Chairman Shimon Mizrahi’s 80th birthday. In attendance for the celebrations were the President of the State of Israel Reuven Rivlin and Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu as the fans gave Mizrahi numerous standing ovations.
After a slow start to the game, Maccabi came alive as Tarik Black found a cutting Yovel Zoosman in the paint for an easy bucket, Nate Wolters drilled home a wide open 3-pointer and to give the Yellow & Blue while Omri Casspi played both scorer and facilitator to grab a 15-2 lead midway through the first quarter. Black and Casspi continued their offensive dominance inside the paint but former Hapoel Jerusalem forward Stratos Perperologou scored 9 points to keep Red Star in the game but Ioannis Sfairpoulos’s squad stayed ahead 25-13.
Deni Avdija sparked Maccabi early on in the second quarter with intelligent play on both sides of the floor with a steal, an assist and a dunk as the hosts increased their lead to 30-17 with 5:52 remaining in the frame. Lorenzo Brown looked to go in for a dunk but Quincy Acy slapped the ball out of his hands from behind but Baron and Perperologou hit triples once again to cut the score to 39-30 after twenty minutes of action.
Wolters opened up the second half with a midrange jumper to get Maccabi off and running while Casspi scored on the next possession forcing Milan Tomic to call time out early on in the third quarter. Black and Casspi added to the lead and put Maccabi up by 14 points midway through the frame 47-33. But Perperologou and Mouhamad Faye brought the Yellow & Blue lead down to just six points 47-41 as the squads traded buckets until the end of the quarter with Maccabi taking a 55-47 advantage into the fourth quarter.
A Wolters basket and a running floater by Scottie Wilbekin bumped up Maccabi’s lead back up to 14 points but yet once again Red Star came back with a pair of 3-pointers by Filip Covic to cut the advantage to 63-55 prompting Sfairpoulos to call time halfway through the frame. Tomic’s crew continued to chip away at the lead and pulled to within one point 67-66 thanks to seven straight points by Ognjen Dobric with just over two minutes remaining in regulation time. Black fouled out and Michael Ojo hit the back end of his free throws as the contest went into overtime all knotted up at 67-67.
Wilbekin drained a triple to start the extra period and hit a pair of free throws to put Maccabi ahead for good as baskets by Wolters, Hunter and Zoosman led Maccabi to a 17-2 run to seal an 84-69 win.