Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Bayern Munich 95-71 on Gameday 10 of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague dominating every facet of the game to move their continental record to 2-8. With eight players scoring 8 or more points, Michael Roll led all Maccabi scorers with 14 points, while Alex Tyus added 13 points and Tarik Black chipped in with 12 points in the 24-point win. Derrick Williams scored 15 points in the devastating loss.
The Yellow & Blue raced out to a quick 27-17 lead after ten minutes as Black dropped 8 points including a thundering dunk from a beautiful Scottie Wilbekin assist to top off a quarter that featured terrific ball movement and high intensity defense. Maccabi extended their advantage to 47-29 by halftime thanks to dominating play on the boards pulling down 13 offensive rebounds and dominating the glass 27-5 over the first twenty minutes of action that featured ten Maccabi players on the scoresheet.
Bayern came out strong in the third quarter as they outscored Maccabi 26-20 to cut the lead to 67-55 thanks to eight points by Derrick Williams but the Yellow & Blue dominated the final frame as Roll, Tyus and Zoosman led the way to a 95-71 win.
1) Maccabi Tel Aviv finally won a home Euroleague game. Yes, I don’t know if you’re more shocked reading that sentence than me typing it. The Yellow & Blue hadn’t won a home contest since February 8, 2018 when they defeated Barcelona 94-82. Since then they lost six straight games at Yad Eliyahu. The fans were out in full force and even NBA Hall of Fame member Dikembe Mutombo was in the house for the festivities for the team’s first win by more than 24 points since Maccabi demolished Besiktas in March of 2013 101-58 with David Blatt at the helm. In fact, it seems that Maccabi’s new coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos has already earned the respect from the Yellow & Blue faithful that only Blatt had received in the recent past and that’s good news. The Greek’s philosophy and simple yet effective game plan has created a fluid, fun and exciting style of basketball. “ From our defense we dominate the game and played great offense, a lot of transition points and fast breaks.” Sfairopoulus continued, “This is only the beginning for us. We have a long and difficult way to continue, but we will focus only on the next game and that’s how we will play until the end of the season.
2) The Yellow & blue absolutely dominated the first half leading by 19 points, 47-29 at the break, holding a 27-5 rebound advantage and dishing out more assists 13-7 but and one of the keys to their success was the play of Johnny O’Bryant. The big man has not only learnt the European game quickly, he also was a force defensively while also closing down the #2 pick overall in the 2011 NBA Draft Derrick Williams. “He’s a great player, “ O’Bryant began. “He’s got a lot to his game and overall we just made it tough for him. He can still make tough shots and hats off to him, he’s a great player.” With 147 NBA games under his belt, European play is a bit different as he makes his first foray overseas and continues to adjust. “When I first got here it was a really tough adjustments with so many different rules and so many different schemes. I’m taking it one game at a time. Neven (Spahija) was patient with me and coach has been patient with me as well. Overall Maccabi has been patient with me in my development. I’m just happy to continue to progress.” Sfairopoulos knows that O’Bryant will be a key to the team’s success but also understands that he’s still learning, “Johnny is really talented and he can play inside, outside, offensively and defensively. He’s very big and shares the perimeter and rebounds the ball. We need to be better together as a team in tactical parts as well as our team defense. That’s what I want to improve.”
3) Kendrick Ray was not only the first man off the bench but has become an integral part of Maccabi since the departure of Neven Spahija. Sfairopoulos has instilled confidence and trust as the former Nymburk guard plays significant minutes for the Yellow & Blue in key moments of the game coming on to spell Scottie Wilbekin. “Kendrick is a player that fits a lot of my philosophy because he can press very hard and he can organize and is very athletic,” the coach commented. “I want his athleticism and energy in the game, He needs to know how to control himself and read bette the game. This will make him an even better point guard.” Ray was also happy with not only his performance but also the importance of getting a win, “It was a great win for us trying to turn things around and we came out with a lot of energy today and it showed. I just came out and brought my energy to her get this win.”
Michael Roll had an interesting matchup during the second half of the game when he played Petteri Koponen one on one. The Finnish sharp shooter hit some nice buckets in the first half but over the final half when he played roughly ten minutes, Koponen was only able to score 2 points and took only 2 shots as Roll shut him down stopping his ability to do damage from the perimeter. Roll spoke about the matchup, “He’s a really good player and a key for them as they run many plays for him. It was key for us to stop him. He made some tough shots, but we had to make him work. I was just in attic on the offensive. Its was necessary for the fans and we fought really hard right from the tip you could feel the energy in the building.”
Jake Cohen came into the game just seconds after Ray did and played quality ball during the minutes he was on the floor. Cohen’s drive and desire is something that very few players have and his attitude is always positive no matter what the situation. At the end of the day is a good feeling to be relied upon, “It did feel good and felt rewarding. I’ve just been trying to prove myself that I can be out there and I’m going to take it one step at a time and it starts with one good minute and hopefully it leads to two good minutes the next night.”
A funny moment occurred in the 3rd quarter when Wilbekin looked to have phantom fouled Danilo Barthel under the basket right in front of Dikembe Mutombo and his entourage. The big man couldn’t believe the call and he raised his finger, moving it back and forth as he has done tens of thousand of times beforehand. But he didn’t stop there as the former All-Star continued to jaw at the referees! Only in Israel!