Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Fenerbahçe 82-73 to get back on the winning track in Euroleague play after losing two games in a row to CSKA and Panathinaikos. The Yellow & Blue ran out to a 9-0 lead and never looked back as the picked in the victory to move their Euroleague record to 8-6. Pierre Jackson dropped 20 points, Norris Cole added 19, going 3/4 from long distance while Jonah Bolden played superb ball as he scored 7 points, pulled down 9 boards, dished out 5 assists and blocked 2 shots. Jan Vesely led the way for the visitors with 18 points and helped draw 9 fouls while Ali Muhammed aka Bobby Dixon scored 12 points in the loss.
1) After back to back defeats, the Yellow & Blue came back with a vengeance and played lockdown, aggressive defense to pick up the win against the Euroleague Champions Fenerbahçe. Maccabi played committed and disciplined defense and made sure to shut down the visitors 3 point opportunities which had haunted them all month long. Head Coach Neven Spahija echoed the sentiments, “I have a lot of basketball knowledge in my locker room, but if you are not disciplined and committed to do that, it creates a lot of mistakes. We started to play defense and be aggressive from the first minute and we kept it until the last second of the game.” Norris Cole also spoke about the importance of the team’s defensive effort, “We defended a lot better and rebounded a lot better.” Michael Roll expressed his thoughts on the defense, “We contested the 3 point shots they took which was part of the game plan. We were getting burned from downtown lately so we focused a lot on that tonight.” The defense was key and as they say, you win games from defense as a good defense creates a great offense.
2) Jonah Bolden had yet another terrific game and I’m sure turned a few more heads both in Israel and back in the United States. His quality play throughout the first quarter set the tone for the game and helped the Yellow & Blue create separation right from the get go. From his points, rebounds, assists and blocks, Bolden was the key player and was able to impress again as he continued to prove that game in and game out he’s getting closer to the NBA. Coach Neven Spahija complimented #43 for his fine play, “Jonah Bolden he was very important for this system. He is young and it’s not easy to play against Melli and Vesely they have a lot of tricks and talent but he was a good matchup for them. Good effort, good effort.”
3) Playing at home always helps out a team in need and after two losses in a row, it was time to come back to Yad Eliyahu for some home cooking, and play in their friendly confines. It’s what the doctor ordered after two away defeats. But of course it’s not just the building, it’s also the fans who can will their team to a win explained Cole, “We executed the game plan for tonight and we achieved a much needed win. We have amazing fans, the best in the world. We played Maccabi basketball tonight and we need to play Maccabi basketball always.” Alex Tyus also chimed in, “We came with a lot of energy. We were able to win even though we got into some foul trouble. We wanted to make a statement tonight and keep home court which is important to us.”
Coach Spahija was certainly happy with the win as he outsmarted and outcoached the one and only Zeljko Obradovic. Now that’s something that just doesn’t happen everyday. The Serbian boss has won 9 Euroleague titles and is considered to be the best of the best in the business. Never the one to want to compliment the other side, Obradovic made sure to blame the loss on his team’s poor play, “Honestly, I believe that, with all respect to Maccabi and the way we played, we played our worst game in the EuroLeague this year, without any question. We didn’t recognize any situation, shot the ball really bad, everything was really very bad. If you watch the statistics over here, you see that they stopped us seven times, blocked shots.” WHOA! There’s reasons why you didn’t recognize the situation, it’s because Maccabi outfoxed you from beginning to end and matched up well be it the big men dominating at times or the guards who ended up scoring 39 points on the Fenerbahçe players heads. Yes you’re team didn’t play well, but there’s also a reason why. Sometimes even the greats need to look at themselves in the mirror.