Maccabi Tel Aviv pulled off a thriller of a victory defeating Bamberg 90-88 to move to 9-8 in Euroleague play. The visiting German squad grabbed a 25-20 lead after ten minutes thanks to Dejan Musli’s 9 points (20p), however, the Yellow & Blue pulled to within 2 points 41-39 at halftime. Jonah Bolden led the way with 10 first half points and 7 rebounds while Michael Roll (23p) dropped 10 points of his own in 17 minutes of play to keep the host’s within striking distance.
John DiBartolomeo (14p) paced Maccabi in the 3rd quarter with 10 points coming off of the bench in place of Pierre Jackson after the point guard picked up a pair of fouls giving him 4 for the game while Alex Tyus dropped 8 points in the frame. But Ricky Hickman (23p) began slicing up the Yellow & Blue defense scoring 10 points by the end of 30 minutes while adding another 13 at the start of the 4th quarter to give Bamberg a 77-71 lead with 7:05 left in the contest. With time becoming a premium late in the game, both Pierre Jackson (11p/8a) and Deshaun Thomas came off the bench and scored huge points in money time as the former scored 7 points, draining 4 free throws and a triple while running around the court like a jackrabbit to close out the win while the latter also dropped 7 points but none bigger than his game winner with 1:26 left in the game.
1) John Dibartolomeo took the bull by the horns and grabbed his opportunity with both hands, scoring 10 huge points in the last 2:11 of the 3rd quarter when Pierre Jackson was forced out due to foul trouble. Earlier this week, I asked both John and Coach Neven Spahija about his growing pains in the Euroleague and they said that it was a process of learning how to play at this level. There’s no question about John’s effort on the floor and the coach certainly knows that, “He has suffered a lot and it’s his first Euroleague season as well. He gave everything, his heart and soul on the court and I appreciate it. He found a way to compensate for Pierre Jackson’s two fouls. He was a very important part of this game even if he was a -4.” Of course the ever demanding Spahija always wants his players to improve. John also spoke about his performance as well, “I try to come in a do the best I can. My coaches and teammates continue to look for me and tell me to shoot and be aggressive. I was happy that I had more of impact.”
2) Alex Tyus had three huge dunks in the 3rd quarter which set the tone for a frame that has caused some issues for the Yellow & Blue this season. With the score tied up at 41-41 Jackson dished out one of his 8 assists to Tyus right into his happy zone above the rim while the next play down the floor Jackson’s bounce pass to the big man put him in the perfect position to slam it home. Later on he cleaned up a Roll missed layup with a Slamma Jamma Dunakroo. Obviously, the dunk is aesthetically pleasing but it also takes the fans out of their seats and creates positive momentum which everyone feeds off of. With 8 points in the 3rd Tyus along with DiBartolomeo’s 10 really paced Maccabi in what I believe is the money time ten minutes. Tyus spoke about the game from his point of view, “It was a good win to get back on track. It feels good to win again. I’m just trying to do my part and my job to help the team win.” He did his job in roughly 17 minutes of play. Good job Alex.
3) Deshaun Thomas came back and came back in a big way after being on the shelf injured for a coupe of weeks as the forward hit the game winning own around sweet jumper with 1:26 left in the game. His teammates were all happy to have him back as DiBartolomeo explained, “Deshaun is a scorer and he’s always ready at anytime to come in and give us buckets. He works very hard to get back and he was huge tonight.” Tyus also chimed in on Thomas’s return, “We know DT can score really well in the post and we missed him for a couple of weeks.” What did Michael Roll think about Thomas? “Deshaun is just a scorer just like riding a bike for him.” And finally did Deshaun himself think he would be on the court at the end of the game? “I was anxious sitting on the bench for so long but I knew that I was going to be minute restricted. I was surprised when he called me and then it went from there. I shot that so many times in my career, it was a big shot and I’m happy I knocked it down. My teammates gave me the ball in the right position and they were excited that I was out there.”
Former Maccabi guard Ricky Hickman was a monster in the second half scoring 21 of his 23 points and almost willing Bamberg to the win. John DiBartolomeo commented about his play, “Hickman has been in the Euroleague for a long time. He’s a great scorer and great player and he’s tough to guard and kept us on our heels. He carried Bamberg for a lot of the second half. But DeAndre came in and we threw different guys at him to slow him down and it allowed us to come back.” Kane definitely was a key player in shutting Hickman down in crunch time after he ran wild over the 3rd and 4th quarters, “Hickman made some huge shots. We switched up the coverage a lot and he capitalized but it was a team effort guarding him and we did a good job in the 4th quarter. He made 5 straight threes and I had to do something to try and not let him touch it.” The defensive stopper also talked about the other things that help a team to the win, “We always look at the scoring because that’s what gives you the points but it’s the other things, stops, rebounds, blocks and the like that really helps us win the games. It was a team effort.” Coach Spahija also discussed Hickman’s play and spoke about how sometimes these things are also because of putting a new team together as they go through growing pains, “It’s hard to understand the mistakes of the players, going underneath the screen and the like, but this is the process of playing for the first time together.”
Bamberg Head Coach Andrea Trinchieri is undoubtedly one of the best in the business and he unleashed his wrath on the referees following the game, “The referees decided the game. We deserved to win and basically they didn’t let us win. If you give all the calls to Jackson you have to give us the calls under the basket. My team deserved to win the game.” I say sour grapes. The referees were consistently inconsistent all night long for both sides. Jackson was called for back to back fouls in the 3rd quarter, there were plenty of non calls on Bamberg’s side after found and traveling violations that the referees decided to swallow their whistle on. Were there fouls by Maccabi players near the end of the game? Certainly, but you have to look at the whole picture, not just the last minute of the contest. Yes, the Yellow & Blue had plenty of free throws (and missed plenty too) but at the end of the day the referees didn’t decide the game, it was Hackett, Rubit, Hickman and Zizis going 0/4 over the last 1:40 that did. On to Athens and a date with Olympiakos next Tuesday.
WATCH: Michael Roll following the win over Bamberg