Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Milan 79-68 as the Yellow & Blue dominated every facet of their Euroleague matchup at Yad Eliyahu. Six players featured in double digits with Alex Tyus picking up a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds as 8 came on the offensive end of the court. Deshaun Thomas dropped 14 points and grabbed 8 boards while Deandre Kane added 12 in the win. Norris Cole put home 10 points and dished out 8 assists as Art Parakhouski and Pierre Jackson each had 10 points in the victory.
1) The full 40 minutes. That’s what Coach Neven Spahija has been preaching to the players from day one since coming back to Maccabi. The squad had to be focused and play for the full 40 minutes, the whole game from beginning to end. It sounds simple, but in reality it’s definitely not. Maccabi had a rough time last week in Belgrade coming out of the break and couldn’t hold onto their advantage ultimately leading to defeat in Serbia. Norris Cole chimed in on the subject, “We have been talking about having better starts to the half and quarters. We were really imposing our will against Milan playing defense, running, having fun out there and playing Maccabi basketball.” Alex Tyus also chimed in, “We’re getting closer. We didn’t finish the game like we wanted to but it will come. We wore them out in the third quarter and they weren’t scoring. They got frustrated and we kept pushing it and that helped us.” Deandre Kane, who starred in the win spoke about making sure to come back from halftime with the right mentality, “The last two games we had leads going into halftime and the third quarter was a big key for us. We talked about it at halftime and in the first five minutes we took care of business. We got stops and that was the main difference. We can really get out in transition and run. That’s what we did and we pushed the lead up.”
2) Rebounds have been on Spahija’s radar screen so far this season and against Milan, the Yellow & Blue crashed and crashed and crashed the boards leading to a 49-30 advantage which included 19 (!) of the offensive variety. Tyus led the way with 15 boards as more than half, 8 to be exact, coming on the offensive end giving the hosts plenty of second chances; those are quite good numbers any way you slice it. When was the last time a Maccabi player showed that type of production on the glass. Add to that 12 points from the veteran center and you have an MVP performance. Number 9 spoke about the importance of second chances, “We scored a lot off of our second chances, offensive rebounds. Every time you get a second chance it puts a lot of pressure on the defense as they have to defend for another 14 seconds.” It was very clear that Milan coach Simone Pianigiani wasn’t thrilled with his interior defense to say the least.
3) Deandre Kane ended the night with 12 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 23 minutes as well as a stellar night on the defensive side Coach Spahija who was very happy with his performance, “One of the players I am happy about is Deandre Kane, who is playing in the EuroLeague the first time. His effort on defense and offense was very impressive.” Both Kane and his head coach also discussed the importance of patience and time when putting together a team. “We’re 12 guys just coming together and learning each other,”explained Kane. “I think in a few more weeks we will be even better. We love playing with each other and chemistry is building. It’s a great group of guys to be around.” Spahija added, “It’s not easy to put the pieces together in a short time and games will make us better.” True, how true as Maccabi continues to improve and now sits with a 3-2 record.
Next week the Yellow & Blue will welcome Real Madrid and it’s young star Luka Doncic to Tel Aviv. Madrid fell at home to upstart Khimki Moscow which features NBA veteran Alexey Shved and ex-Maccabi forward Malcolm Thomas so they’ll be looking to get back onto the winning track. Doncic featured for the Slovenia National Team which won this summer’s Eurobasket tournament and also made a quick stop in Israel for an exhibition game back in August. It will definitely be a treat to see this up and coming talent who will certainly be drafted by an NBA team in front of a packed Yad Eliyahu. Norris Cole downplayed the upcoming contest: “It’s just another game and we will approach it like that as we try to protect home court and get a win. If we come in with the right mindset and if we play with the effort we gave today, then I think we give ourselves a good chance to win the game.”